Canadian Hockey Captain, 20, Dies After Collapsing During Game: 'We Are All Broken'

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Canadian Hockey Player Dies Mid-Game at 20
Canadian Hockey Player Dies Mid-Game at 20

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A community in Canada is mourning the death of a beloved hockey player who died after collapsing during a tournament.

Eli Palfreyman, the 20-year-old captain of the Ayr Centennials, was in the locker room during a pre-season game when he collapsed Tuesday night, CBC reported. His mother rushed to the changing room, and the team's trainer began to perform chest compressions. His pulse had become faint by the time he was put in an ambulance and taken to a local hospital. He died shortly after.

Palfreyman's parents sat down with his teammates the next day to speak about his impact, Centennials' Vice President Brian Shantz recounted to the outlet.

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Per Shantz, his father told told the athletes, "The happiest day in Eli's life was when he was named captain, and he said you cannot take a shift off the rest of the year because Eli's spirit will be pushing you to do your best every shift, and I want to see it."

Shantz added of the emotional meeting, "Then the mother spoke and, you know, the tears were just flowing everywhere when a grieving mother speaks about her son. And instead of going inward, she just talked about us and everything that we did. She was there, she saw it and she just praised us. She said, 'I know how hard you worked to save Eli.' "

His cause of death has not been reported, according to The Spun.

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On Tuesday night, the team announced on its official Facebook page that games scheduled for Wednesday were canceled. The Centennials went on to post a photo of Palfreyman on the court, writing, "We love you Eli" with a red heart emoji.

The team added a statement on Thursday that read, "Thank you for the outpouring love and support for our beloved Captain and beautiful young man Eli. Words can not describe how much it means to his family and our Ayr Centennials Family. We are all broken but feel your arms around us #RIP17."

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The Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, which the Centennials play under, also shared kind words on the loss, stating that they are "devastated to hear of the passing of 20-year-old Eli Palfreyman, Captain of the Ayr Centennials. He was participating in the inaugural Ayr Farmers Mutual Global Invitation tournament."

Commissioner Brent Garbutt added, "The GOJHL and all member teams would like to extend our deepest condolences to Eli's family, friends, his teammates, and the entire Centennials organization. This is an unexplainable tragedy, and no words can ease the pain everyone involved is feeling."

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Garbutt shared that the league would be offering grief and mental health counseling to the Centennials and other teams, adding that a game set for Thursday was also canceled.

"League members are discussing ways to remember Eli as we progress through the 2022-23 season," the commissioner said.

A GoFundMe has since been launched to raise money for funeral costs and for his parents to take leave off of work as they mourn. As of Friday, it was a couple hundred dollars away of meeting its $15,000 goal.