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Former hockey coach honors late wife with tournament

By Emily Kumlien, ekumlien@wisctv.com
Published On: May 01 2013 03:06:28 PM CDT
Updated On: May 01 2013 10:01:51 PM CDT
Gene Tempel

Gene Tempel

MADISON, Wis. -

Next week, 16 teams from the area will come to Oregon for the fourth annual Alumni Hockey Tournament on May 10-12.

Players ranging in age from 21-55 will bring back the good old day and play hockey for three days.

On the surface it might seem like just another hockey tournament but this year they will be honoring one very special hockey mom.

"Now I have to bring this up.  This is a fish I caught in 2009 its a 32-inch walleye," said Gene Tempel.

The 66-year-old likes to tell stories about his family and hockey.

"I have 11 grandkids, eight girls and three boys," Tempel says. A roofer by trade, the father of four spent much of his life as a youth, junior and high school hockey coach.

"I had skated since I was 5 years old in Illinois on the river," Tempel said.

But his true love is his wife, Becky.

"She was 4-foot- 11 and the snow was almost over her head in this photo. Whenever she gave that smile there was something going to happen. She beamed and was just such a happy lady," Tempel said.

But that happiness changed in December 2009 when Becky was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

"It's tough to be with that person and have that person look at you and smile and say everything is OK," said Tempel.

After a two-and-a-half-year fight, Tempel's wife of nearly 42 years passed away on May 9, 2012.

"It's a very devastating feeling," Tempel said. "I have many friends but not friends like that.  Her only problem is that only one percent of money went to pancreatic cancer."



Ben Cowan played for Tempel when McFarland and Oregon were a co-op back in the late '90s.

"She [Becky] was probably the greatest hockey mom ever," said Cowan.

The past few years Cowan has organized an Alumni Hockey Tournament. This year money raised will go to UW's Carbone Cancer Center in Becky's honor for pancreatic cancer research. 

"It's the least we can do. It's a special event for us even more so now because we can do this for Gene and Becky. From now on this is her event and we are going to keep this tradition going," said Cowan.

Tempel hopes to carry out Becky's wish of one day finding a cure.

"She just made life for me so important and unlike the other cancers pancreatic cancer, hasn't had a helper. I will do what I can. I am motivated to do this," said Tempel.

The tournament is May 10th-May 12th at the Oregon Community Sports Arena. If you would like to learn more or donate you can go to the tournament's website here.

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