Former Michigan hockey player Scott Matzka, a member of the 1998 national-championship team who assisted on the winning goal, died after battling Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He was 40.
“Scott was a great player, tremendous teammate and true champion,” Michigan head coach Mel Pearson, an assistant coach during Matzka’s career (1998-2001), said in a statement. “My thoughts and prayers are with the Matzka family during this difficult time.”
Matzka had 91 points during his Michigan career, his best season coming in 1999-2000, when he had 15 goals and 30 points as a junior.
A forward, he played professionally for 12 years after his Michigan career, including in the AHL, ECHL and in Europe. He had stints with the Grand Rapids Griffins and Kalamazoo Wings.
After being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2015, he created the “My Turn” foundation to raise awareness about the disease.
In 2016, he wrote about his battle for The Players Tribune, saying, in part:
“This disease can do a lot of terrible things. But it won’t erase my memories, or the thought of my wife and kids smiling. I will never forget our trip to Traverse City the weekend after I was diagnosed. The pictures we have will never degrade.
The irony of ALS is that while it destroys your body, your mind remains as sharp as ever. Those moments are moments I’ll never forget — this disease will not take that away from me.
I love my wife and kids so much. I love my family and friends so much. This disease may silence me, but it cannot silence all of us.”
He also was the subject of a documentary, “‘My Turn, The Film,” released earlier this year.
Matzka, a Port Huron native, is survived by wife Catie, daughter Reese, 9, and son Owen, 6.