Hockey Up Here: Robert Erkkila

POSSIBLE. 3 Calumet, Michigan. A tight knit community. once the center of mining in the U.P. Now celebrated for its ties to hockey.In a place like the Colosseum, you can always find someone there.Someone like Robert Erkkila, or Bob, His kids knew, if he wasn’t at home or at work, he was at the Colosseum.Watching his friends, his children, his grandchildren, or the hometown Copper Kings play, Bob could be found somewhere around the building.”Tell me about Bobby?” 3 “Robert Erkkila, he was a good friend of mine before we got involved in hockey and of course, I knew Bobby, we were golf partners, bowling partners, and stuff like that, but hockey-wise, Bobby was really involved even when he was a teenager in hockey and through the years, we called Bobby, our historian.””Yeah Bob was that constant figure here. Bob was involved in high school hockey, he was involved in Junior hockey, he was involved with the Wolverines, he was always here, he was always involved. He did it for his kids and he did it for all the other kids that were in the association, so those types of people are few and fare between.”Bob’s impact on the Colosseum can be seen by the pictures lining the walls. The names that fill the Calumet Alumni Board right as you walk in.Articles that speak to his passion of the game.And the banners that wave over the crowd as the young men and women skate their hearts out.”Well he was like a fixture here, you know like I said, everything on the walls, he helped us put it up. All the articles that are written about hockey players that came and lived here, Bobby wrote all those up. He did all the stats for the high school teams, senior teams, for all those years. He wrote articles for the newspaper for us, so we miss him terribly.”Bob and his wife, Virginia, had a large family.10 children, all four boys played hockey.”I have grown up with Bob and my dad were really good friends for many, many years, so yes, my brothers were the same age as a lot of Bob’s kids and I’ve grown up and now I’ve coached probably 5 to 7 of Bob’s grand kids over the last ten years too, so.”As his kids grew up, the Erkkila family quadrupled in size.By the end of his life, Bob had 42 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.Many of whom play the game he couldn’t get away from.”He watched 11 games in one day because he didn’t want to miss one of his grandkids and they we’re all playing locally. Two rinks in Houghton, the two rinks in Calumet and he just went from kid to kid and watched them all.”One of Bob’s grandson’s, Samuel, was the Captain of the Calumet Copper Kings when he was in high school.And it always motivated Sam to look up and see his grandpa watching and commentating on his game.”It’s pretty special to have someone like that watching over every game. You look up and see him up there, it’s kind of like gets you going, you want to play good for him because he loves the sport, he loves watching it, he knows so much about the game you want to impress him. Look up to him a lot. He knows so much. I will never know as much as he does ever in my life, not even close, so it’s just special to me that I know he is watching and he is there.”Sam, made his Juniors debut on September 13th for the Grande Prairie Storm in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.The very next day, Sam scored his first goal for the Storm.I imagine that Bob was looking down on him. 3 “Yeah, I think he was. I always think he is watching, no matter what. Watching or listening, I know he is there supporting me all the way, no matter what. All the time.Bob passed away peacefully at his home on February 16th this year before he knew the colosseum would play host to two NHL teams.In dedication to Bob’s impact on the Calumet Hockey Community, the Colosseum’s press box has officially been named the Bob Erkkila Press Box. 3 “Troy Pierce made the initial save. The puck was to the left of the net. It came across. He thought he had the initial save, but the rebound came out the defenders were not able to tie him up and Hanon, Johnny on the spot, put it underneath the pad for the Gremlins 1-0 lead. 18 seconds into the period.”friends and family say Bob would be excited to see the colosseum transformed. 3 “Oh, he would be here everyday. It would be hard to keep him out of this building and not only that, he would be helping us. He would be on our committees, he would be on our work committees, and he would be here everyday.””Oh god, he’d probably set up a cot in here (laughter).” 3 “I would most likely guarantee that if they were coming up here, my dad would be a person that would take em around, show em the town, show em the Colosseum and give them all the history on that because he knows everything about the history of our town.”Bob may not be with us today, but his presence can be felt throughout the Colosseum. “Well, thank you. I enjoy doing this, but we’ll look at it next year and if all goes well, maybe

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