What began in tragedy ended in triumph as a three-day midget prospects holiday hockey tournament wrapped up last night.
As the Ajax/Pickering Raiders basked in the glow of victory, beating the Markham Waxers 4-3 in a game decided by a shootout, thoughts turned to Alex Corrance, whose life ended on the very same sheet of ice.
Corrance, 17, played defence for the Mississauga Rebels and suddenly collapsed on Tuesday, opening day at the high-end showcase run by the Wexford Raiders.
There was no contact and no history of what would unfold at Scarborough's Canlan IceSports, leaving many in disbelief and a family in sorrow.
Under this devastating backdrop, the show went on and players from both sides lined up on their respective blue lines for a moment of silence and remember a hockey brethren whose life was taken way too short.
"No one can explain something of that nature to happen," Raiders coach Larry Gertsakis said. "It was devastating and it sent shock through our whole team. You're just thankful for what you have."
Gertsakis' son, Bobby, plays for the Raiders.
"You just assume everyone is healthy," Larry Gertsakis said. "This is not natural. This should not happen. These kids are athletes who are very active in hockey and you feel that they're invincible, that they could play through anything and handle anything.
"Whether it's a fever, upset stomach, whatever, they play through it. Something like this never goes through your mind. It really, really sets you back. We were fortunate to win, but our thoughts and prayers are for (Corrance's) family."
During the moment of silence, Waxers coach Paul Titanic, whose son David is a team member, reflected on the event that shook the minor hockey world.
"My feelings were of sadness for the boy and my thoughts were of his family,'' Titanic said. "I asked for strength for the family. To lose someone suddenly is very difficult, especially a young person. It made me sad.
"We're involved in hockey and you have to compete and play the game. Unfortunately it lessens the value of the game or anything around it because of such a significant event."
Both Gertsakis and Titanic stressed the need to keep everything in perspective in the wake of Alex Corrance's death.
"Overall in minor hockey, people take things too seriously,'' Titanic said. "There's a great lesson, unfortunately, in Alex's death in that you have to love one another and enjoy our lives because you never know what is going to happen."