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Older players impress at alumni game

by Tal Pinchevsky

DETROIT -- Most of the former members of the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs who participated in the first of two alumni games Tuesday at Comerica Park aren't that far removed from their glory days. A number of them, like Detroit's Mathieu Schneider and Aaron Ward or Toronto's David Reid and Cory Cross were still in the NHL just a few years ago and were in their 40s when they took the ice the day before the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

Those players only a few years removed from their time in the League were particularly impressed by the performances from the older players participating in the alumni game.

Doug Favell, 68, started in net for the Maple Leafs alumni and occasionally showed impressive flashes of quickness. In perhaps the game's most surreal moment, Detroit opened the scoring when Favell allowed a goal by defenseman Jiri Fischer, who retired prematurely due to a heart condition and is 35 years Favell's junior.

"That was awesome, seeing Doug out there with the pads," Maple Leafs goaltender Peter Ing said. "I thought someone would lob one at the net, but the first one was a heater. I felt for him."

Eddie Mio started in Detroit's net exactly one month before he turns 60. Adding a vintage flair to the event, Mio wore his original mask for the game, a Spartan piece of headwear that barely had a fraction of the protection today's modern masks offer.

But the biggest applause was reserved for the game's oldest participant, 74-year-old Red Berenson. The coach at the University of Michigan, Berenson didn't look like a senior citizen on the ice when Detroit coach Scotty Bowman sent him out for a crucial late-game faceoff with Toronto trailing 5-4 and its goaltender pulled.

Berenson helped preserve the win for the Detroit alumni, earning praise from players on both teams.

"I was impressed with Red Berenson. He's 74 years old. That's my new idol. I hope I can play in these alumni games when I'm 74 years old," Toronto defenseman Brad Marsh said. "The last faceoff was hugely impressive. He was so strong on the puck that our guy couldn't win the draw. He just clamped right down."

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