B.C. hockey community mourns death of 18-year-old player

·2-min read
Tragedy struck the hockey world with the death of a teen player in B.C. (Photo via @VijhlB/Twitter)
Tragedy struck the hockey world with the death of a teen player in B.C. (Photo via @VijhlB/Twitter)

An 18-year-old hockey player from British Columbia tragically died on Monday.

Grant Gilbertson, a forward for the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League’s Peninsula Panthers, was on his way to practice when he was involved in a car crash on Monday evening, around 6:00 p.m. local time.

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According to the reports from the RCMP, it appears that icy road conditions were a major factor as to why the accident took place. It was confirmed on Tuesday that Gilbertson succumbed to his injuries at the scene of the collision.

According to Panthers owner Pete Zubersky, Gilbertson’s mother contacted him after hearing about the crash, and when the forward was not in attendance for practice, and after some unsuccessful attempts from teammates to contact him, the team and family grew concerned.

The news of the accident reached the team with about 20 minutes left in practice, according to Zubersky, and he described the moment as “devastating.”

“I cannot explain the grief we felt as a group. I am just so saddened by this situation and I know that Grant’s family and friends have had their hearts ripped out,” Zubersky said in a statement.

“This is really a true tragedy in every sense of the word and our organization’s every thought, every second of every day is on Grant and his family.”

With the blessing of Gilbertson’s family, the team is moving on and is going to play its upcoming scheduled games.

“We strongly believe that the players need to be together, to be able to work through their grief with the support of each other," Zubersky said. "There has been an incredible amount of love and support from the other organizations in the league. We all battle and compete night in and night out but everyone closed ranks immediately when this happened.”

The Panthers’ next game is scheduled for Wednesday night on the road, but when they return home to play the Victoria Cougars on Friday, a 25-30 minute ceremony to celebrate the life of Gilbertson will take place.

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