Scholarship fund recognizes Huron hockey standout

HURON PLAINSMAN FILE PHOTO This photo is of the victorious 1975 Huron All-Stars varsity hockey team, following its championship game win and trophy presentation. In the center, highlighted by the spot circle is David Stahl, a senior leader of that team, and for whom a scholarship has been established with the S.D. Amateur Hockey Association.

HURON — A scholarship fund has been established at the S.D. Amateur Hockey Association, with the purpose of assisting players to meet financial needs and it bears the name of one of the best players to ever lace up skates for the Huron All-Stars hockey team.

It’s called the Dave Stahl All-Star Fund and information on how to donate to the fund can be found at the end of this story.

The fund is set up to help hockey players with assistance for camps, equipment or registration costs, so that they can enjoy the game as much as the person whose name graces it does.

Through the SDAHA meeting early in May, a total of $3,825 had been donated to the fund. Stahl, who lives in Omaha, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and his friends, family and former teammates set up the fund to leave a legacy in his name for young hockey players, so that every kid has an opportunity to believe in themselves and to improve their skills.

A little bit about the fund’s namesake.

In its infancy, hockey in South Dakota included teams from Minnesota. Huron’s All-Stars won their first title in 1972, then watched a team from Marshall, Minn., take the next two championships.

But in the 1975 season, Huron was led by a deep group of seasoned senior players, led by Stahl.

The All-Stars ended the regular season with a record of 7-1,  the S.D. Conference title and the top seed in the state tournament, which was held on the home ice, outdoors, on the S.D. State Fairgrounds.

“I remember that team for sure,” said Mike Stoley, who played hockey in Huron and was a freshman that season. “I played on the varsity as an eighth-grader, as Dave did when he was in eighth grade.”

Huron won its semifinal game and faced the Britton Bruins for the state title. Merl Wolff of Britton scored the first three goals of the game; two of which were assisted by his twin brother Brett.

“So, we’re in the locker room - which was really this wood hut in the freezing cold,” Stoley recalled. “We’re behind 3-0 and one of my classmates, another junior level player, got up and made a somewhat disparaging remark about the unattractiveness of Merl Wolff’s girlfriend and then laughed about it.”

Stoley said that Stahl got up and “tore us a new one.”

He added that the mood in the locker room immediately changed, as Stahl’s response galvanized and focused the team to go back out and play at Stahl’s level of intensity.

Which it did.

Huron scored seven goals in the second period. Stahl scored four of them, in seven-and-a-half minutes of play and led the All-Stars to a 7-3 lead with one period to go. Merl Wolff scored three more goals, but it was too little, too late, as Huron’s Greg Starnes scored an insurance goal for the All-Stars with 10 minutes to play and Huron hoisted the championship trophy after the 8-6 win. Starnes scored twice in the game, both assisted by Stahl.

“That was Dave,” said Jim Moores, who also played with the All-Stars through much of his high school years. “He was a leader and boy was he a goal scorer; that’s what he did. He was like the Wayne Gretzky for Huron; the guy who could always get a shot.”

Moores said that he and Stahl were in the same grade in school and played together from the time Moores’ family moved to Huron from the Chicago area in 1969. Moores noted that the idea of calling the Huron team the All-Stars, was a homage to a previous team he played on in Illinois.

 Both were members of the 1972 championship team, although Moores moved with his family during the summer prior to his senior year, and he missed the title run in ’75. “But we had a lot of fun playing together,” Moores said. “It’s just so perfect to call the fund it the Dave Stahl All Star Fund.”

The Dave Stahl All Star Fund is administered by SDAHA, as will the applications and disbursement of funds.

Donations may be made via check to SDAHA and sent to: SDAHA, c/o Dave Stahl All Star Fund, PO Box 1683, Watertown, SD 57201.

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