Rising Canadian junior hockey player Eli Palfreyman is believed to have died in the locker room during a pre-season game in Ontario on Tuesday night.
The 20-year-old from Cambridge, Ont. The native collapsed during the first intermission of the Ayr Centennials pre-season game at the North Dumfries Community Complex, according to the Toronto Sun. Emergency officials were unable to revive the forward star.
Medical officials have not released the cause of Palfreyman’s death and the centennial organization said it would not speculate “out of respect for the family’s right to privacy”.
“We ask for your prayers and support for Eli’s family and each of our players,” Centennials Vice President Brian Shantz said in a statement. “Our Centennials organization and the community of Ayr are in mourning. Eli received the best care from our medical staff and a quick response from outpatient staff.
The Ayr Centennials, one of 25 teams in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, named Palfreyman its captain for its next season days before the tragedy. He was entering his second season with the organization.
“It’s an honor to wear the C,” Palfreyman said after being named captain on Friday. “I’m coming back this year – my last year – as captain, words don’t explain how honored I am to be in this position.”
Palfreyman was a 12th round pick of the Peterborough Petes in the 2018 Ontario Hockey League draft.
“Our deepest condolences go out to Eli’s family and all of his Ayr teammates and staff,” Peterborough Petes general manager Michael Oke said in a statement.
The GOJHL postponed its games originally scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday following the death of Palfreyman.
North Dumfries Township Mayor Sue Foxton ordered flags to be flown at half-mast at the arena as teams across the junior hockey landscape paid tribute to the youngster.
“Disappeared from our eyes but never from our hearts”, said the Atlanta Madhatters, Palfreyman’s former team. “With tears and deep sadness, we offer our deepest condolences to his family and to those who were blessed to be his teammates.”