Joseph Roman Kastelic
Born: February 16, 1933 (Kirkland Lake, Ontario)
Died: July 16, 2014 (Muskegon, Michigan)
Member: Muskegon (Mich.) Area Sports Hall of Fame (2001)
Big Joe Kastelic retired after the 1967-68 season as the International Hockey League’s all-time leading scorer with 551 goals.
Kastelic spent the final seven of his 15 IHL seasons with the Muskegon Zephyrs (later Mohawks), never recording less than 78 points per season. He twice led the league in goal scoring with 63 goals in 1962-63 (in just 67 games), followed by 49 goals the following season.
The 6-foot, 190-pound right winger won three Turner Cup championships — in 1959 with the Louisville Rebels, in 1962 with the Zephyrs, and in 1968 with the Mohawks.
Kastelic’s career goal record in the IHL lasted 24 seasons until bettered by Scott (The Shot) Gruhl of the Fort Wayne Komets in 1992.
Kastelic was born in Kirkland Lake, Ont., to immigrant parents from Slovenia. His father worked in the gold mines and Joe played junior-B in nearby Swastika. He also showed promise as an outfielder and first baseman and was scouted by the Boston Red Sox, but did not sign. His two seasons in junior-A were spent in Ontario with the Oshawa Generals and St. Catharines Teepees.
An inconsequential three-game tryout with the Buffalo Bisons of the American Hockey League preceded his storied IHL career. The forward was a steady if unspectacular point-getter in four seasons with the Komets. After a stint with the Troy Bruins and two full seasons with the Rebels, during which he won his first title, he was claimed by the sophomore Muskegon franchise in 1961.
In 1962, the Zephyrs won eight of nine playoff games, including a four-game sweep in the finals over two-time defending champion St. Paul Saints.
His goal totals in seven seasons in Muskegon — 47, 63, 49, 47, 35, 34, 34.
An injured shoulder led to a premature end to his hockey career. In 1974, he won a $35,000 malpractice lawsuit against a doctor who misled the player by not informing him of the continued damage being down to the shoulder by playing.
Kastelic worked as a car salesman and in real estate after retiring from hockey. His No. 6 sweater was retired in Muskegon and he was inducted into the local sports hall of fame in 2001.
Joe Kastelic with St. Catharines (Ont.) Teepees in 1951-52.