I heard the awful news today that a child in my hometown’s youth hockey program was killed in a tragic snowmobile accident over the weekend.
Cale Osterhoff, 7, a Kankakee Coyote mite, is said to have adored the sport so much he asked to stick around and attend high school games of the Kankakee Irish, for whom my youngest brother now plays.
I never met him personally, or saw him play. So, nothing could be a fitting tribute.
However, I can’t stop thinking about those little hockey players. Their tiny skates, sticks, and gloves contrasted by their mighty hopes and dreams.
It doesn’t matter if they’re 60 miles south of Chicago, or in Buffalo or Winnipeg.
I’ve sat in cold rinks watching my brothers fall stumble over the ice, fall victim to the offside rules, score their first goals, celebrate their wins, and bounce back from their losses. And we’ve all mourned as our favorite teams’ seasons ended before we thought they should.
But, there’s no way to hang your head so low for a loss like this — a happy player taken from his “team” far too early.
This is heartbreaking for the entire hockey family; and so we raise and tap our sticks to the ice for you, Cale, No. 19, and we wish your loved ones and Coyote teammates strength during this very difficult time.