John P. Matchefts, age 82 and a resident of Colorado Springs since the 1960s, passed away peacefully on November 10, 2013 at his home. John was an instructor and hockey coach (32 years); high school for 10 years in Minnesota (Thief River Falls and Eveleth), then began his college coaching career at Colorado College, followed by the United States Air Force Academy for many years. After retiring from coaching hockey, John continued to coach AFA Women’s golf and remained an instructor at the Academy until his retirement.
John Peter Matchefts was born on June 18, 1931 in Eveleth, Minnesota to Joe and Lena (Brascugli) Matchefts who preceded him in death. He was a 1949 graduate of Eveleth High School and a 1953 graduate of the University of Michigan. He played hockey for Michigan, receiving 3 consecutive national titles (’51-’53) and awarded Tournament Most Outstanding Player at the conclusion of the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship in 1953. John was also awarded All American Hockey Player in all 3 NCAA championships. He received a silver medal in the 1956 Olympic Games, and was inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991. He has had many other awards recognizing his abilities as a player and a coach. He served his country in the United States Marine Corps after college before beginning his career as a coach.
John Married Carolyn Hattaway, of Macon, Georgia in 1953 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They had their only daughter, Antonia “Toni” in 1974.
He is survived by his daughter, Toni and husband, Rick Freehling of Colorado Springs; his grandchildren: Ceresa, Alena and Cael Freehling; his brother, Dr. James N. Matchefts, DDS of Eveleth, Minnesota. Coach Matchefts has 8 nieces and nephews, 9 godchildren, and many beloved cousins.
He was preceded in death by his sister, Josephine Ann “JoAnn” (Matchefts) Hill, John Hill, and close cousins and friends.
Coach Matchefts will be best remembered as an outstanding hockey player, a respected coach, for his strength, perseverance, passion for skilled hockey, the love he had for the game, his amazing leadership abilities, for the personal investment he made in all of his players and family, for his love of Siberian Huskies, and his 1930 Ford Model A, which he restored. Beloved father, husband, grandpa, brother, friend, player, and coach.
A Memorial Mass will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at the United States Air Force Academy Catholic Cadet Chapel, 2306 Sijan Drive, Air Force Academy, CO 80840. A reception will follow at Eisenhower Golf Club at the Air Force Academy. Private interment will be in Eveleth, Minnesota.
A tribute to John celebrating his life of hockey will be held at the beginning of January 2014 (date and location to be announced).
In lieu of flowers, memorials in Coach Matchefts’ name may be made to the Mile High Husky Rescue at www.mhhr.org/donate or to Colorado Springs Amateur Hockey at http://csaha.com/page.php?page_id=26672.