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September 03, 2016

Mike Zuke

As a youth the game of hockey came easy to Mike Zuke.

It helped that his father built a backyard rink. It was the most popular backyard rink in all of Sault Ste. Marie as all the neighborhood kids loved coming over.

It also helped that Zuke's family was full of great hockey players. He had four uncles who excelled on the senior circuit. And his father, Mike Sr., was the legendary local youth coach. They named rinks and minor hockey awards after his father for his many years service. That's pretty amazing since Dad was a better pitcher than he was a hockey player in his day. He even once had a tryout with the Detroit Tigers organization.

Young Mike was interested in more than just hockey. He wanted to pursue his education, too. In 1972 he attended Michigan Tech University where he not only dominated on the ice, but was a member of the honour society.

Zuke's career at Michigan Tech was legendary. In four seasons he scored 310 points, scoring 133 goals, and tallying 177 assists in 163 games. He was a two-time All-American, WCHA Freshman of the Year (1973), All-WCHA first team (1976), and WCHA Most Valuable Player (1976).

The highlight of his career was leading the Huskies to three consecutive NCAA championships.

 The St. Louis Blues drafted Zuke 79th overall in the 1974 NHL draft. He would play an impressive 455 games with the Blues and Hartford Whalers. He never really found his offensive potential at the NHL level but became a nice and reliable two way player. He was a strong faceoff man which made him a nice fit on the penalty kill.

Zuke retired during the 1985-1986 season rather than accept a player-coach position in the minor leagues.

He returned to St. Louis where he coached youth hockey for many years while working in several business opportunities. At one point he worked for a company the built custom closets. Then he got into his own screen printing and embroidery business.

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