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Peterson: Two seniors still going strong

It’s been said that advancing age is merely a state of mind.

But don’t tell that Bruce Coppo of Calumet or Harold Filpus of Tapiola that.

The two senior citizens have shown clearly that age is just a matter of mind for some people.

In Coppo’s case, he went out on the ice recently for the CLK Wolverines in a game against Eagle River.

Nevermind that Coppo, better known as “Cukie,” was playing against players forty or fifty years younger.

He was out on the ice for a purpose — the game marking his eighth decade as a hockey player.

I used to kid him that he first started playing at the old Calumet Armory when the sideboards were almost non-existent.

Of when the sideboards at old Dee Stadium consisted of chickenwire (they really did up until the early 1960s).

The temperatures inside the two buildings were often colder than outside. And that was on nights when it was a minus 30 degrees … or lower.

Coppo has been the heart and soul of senior hockey in the northend for more than 50 years, serving in the role of player, coach and general manager for th Wolverines.

Late northend sports sage Bob Erkkila often said Coppo was a “natural scorer, who knew all the angles.”

And sure enough, in his first game in his 8th decade of playing, he put in three productive shifts for Calumet.

Filpus, who often plays rental hockey along with Coppo and some other graybeards to this day, was more noted for his baseball and basketball exploits.

In the latter sport, he scored the winning basket in sudden death overtime for J.A. Doelle against a Chassell team in 1954. That was a Chassell team right on the verge of starting its dynasty a year later.

As you’ll remember, that was the team that had players like Don Mattson, Terry Pokela and Tom Peters and won three straight Class D State championships and 65 games in a row.

Harold also played a big role for Tapiola baseball team that dominated the Twilight League in the late 1950s and the early 1960s. He was a hard-hitting first baseman for the Blues.

Filpus later coached the Tapiola Over 50 solftball team. Those teams won several league and playoff titles. He was still coaching last season.

Not only did Coppo and Filpus have successful playing careers, they have also served as an inspiration for younger players.

And that is the kind of inspiration you don’t find enough of nowadays.

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