20-Year-Old Hockey Player Drops Dead During Game: 'We Are Asking for Your Prayers'
Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.
A beloved junior ice hockey player in Canada died unexpectedly during a game on Aug 30.
Eli Palfreyman, a 20-year-old forward for the Ayr Centennials, collapsed during the first intermission of a preseason tournament game, the Toronto Sun reported.
Waterloo Regional Police Service spokeswoman Cherri Greeno said community members tried to revive Palfreyman but were unable to do so.
“On Tuesday Aug. 30, 2022, Waterloo Regional Police responded to a medical emergency at the North Dumfries Community Centre hockey arena located in the Township of North Dumfries,” Greeno said, according to the Sun.
“Members of the community assisted the individual until emergency services attended. The individual was transported to Cambridge Memorial Hospital where he was, unfortunately, pronounced deceased.”
Palfreyman was drafted in 2018 by the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League. He had since joined the Centennials, and he was named a captain just a few days prior to his death.
“It’s an honor, first of all, to wear the ‘C’ in this long, historic organization,” Plafreyman said after he was named captain. “… To be a part of the organization last year as an assistant captain was an honor, and to be coming back this year, my final year, as the captain is — words don’t explain how honored I am to be in this position.”
A source close to the team said Palfreyman told coaches he was not feeling well after the first period, the Sun reported. The staff reportedly went to the stands and asked for assistance from paramedics and a doctor from the Boston Jr. Bruins, who were the visiting team.
An anonymous source said “they tried everything they could” to save Palfreyman’s life.
“Out of respect for the family’s right for privacy we will not speculate on anything at this very difficult time,” Centennials Vice President Brian Shantz wrote in a statement, according to the Sun.
“Medical doctors will have more answers for us in the coming days … Cents nation also needs time to heal during this devastating time.”
In a statement, the Ayr Centennials requested prayers.
“We are asking for your prayers and support for Eli’s family and each of our players,” the statement said, according to the Sun. “Our Centennial’s organization and the community of Ayr are in mourning. We have reached out to mental health and grief professionals to support our players and staff.”
The Provincial Junior Hockey League’s Clarington Eagles and the Central Canada Hockey League also offered prayers for Palfreyman’s friends and family.
Tragedy in AYR yesterday as Captain Eli Palfreyman passed away during a hockey game.
The entire Clarington Eagles organizations thoughts and prayers go out to the Centennials organization, it’s fans as well as the friends and family of this young man.https://t.co/IDkE4VOtjr pic.twitter.com/64myrTrZZA
— Clarington Eagles (@EaglesPJHL) August 31, 2022
The entire @TheCCHL community sends their thoughts and prayers to the Ayr Centennials and family of their captain Eli Palfreyman https://t.co/wVPrhMPlyS
— Central Canada Hockey League (@TheCCHL) August 31, 2022
Palfreyman’s former team, the Atlanta Madhatters, said he would not be soon forgotten.
“Gone from our sight but never our hearts,” the team said, according to the New York Post. “With tears and profound sadness, we offer our deepest condolences to his family and those that were blessed to be his teammates.”
Ayr, Ontario, Mayor Sue Foxton said she was also devastated by the news.
“As a community we are saddened and mourn the loss of this young man along with our Ayr Centennials, and the family,” Foxton said, The Sun reported. “There are no words. Just profound sorrow. We are a community; when one hurts, we all hurt.”
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