To say Ron Castorri was a fan of the game of hockey is an understatement. He was a Wings season-ticket holder for 26 years— many of which were seasons that tested even the most loyal of fans. But he believed. He witnessed the rise of the Yzerman era, the induction of the Russian line, the changing of tides to the Swedes, and every moment between and since.
As was his way, Ron made sure his legendary 4th row seats just inside the blue line were always available to friends, family, and anyone who would enjoy them as he did. This, of course, was all when he wasn’t directing award-winning TV commercials like the famous Detroit Zoo “Talking Animals” spot.
When we began this event 15 years ago, Ron was one of the first calls we made. He immediately and happily gave us a set of his tickets as well as becoming one of our first full sponsors.
For a couple of the first years, along side DeMilner (aka Dale Bowerchuck), Hugh Broder and a bunch of other ragtags, Ron even donned his skates and squared off against the Red Wings Alumni. Then, when he stopped playing, he took the post behind the bench, a position he held until last year when he was in treatment for pancreatic cancer. He was our coach. He gave us pep talks; he yelled; he handed out beers; he told us to “stop chasing;” he laughed; he even tried bribing the Alumni with extra drinks – always trying his best to keep his team in the game. To no avail, of course (we are playing against guys who once entertained us from Ron’s 4th row seats). We‘ve lost every single year. Though, you would never know it were you to hear our locker room after the games, everyone laughing and cheering, and Ron philosophically instilling in us that “there’s always next year.”
Well, on March 21st, it will be that next year. And Ron has left us far too soon. The UCP Pucksters, this year and every year to come, will play on in memory of our friend, our supporter, OUR coach, Ron Castorri. He will never, ever be forgotten.