The local hockey community is in mourning after rookie Canmore Eagles forward Patrick Steel was found dead on Wednesday (Nov. 9).
According to Eagles’ general manager Andrew Milne, Steel was sent home from practice on Tuesday (Nov. 8) after he became ill and vomited. Another Eagles player, Jeremy Margeson, had the flu and Steel assumed he had caught the same bug.
Steel did not go to the hospital, but instead left to rest at his billet’s home. He was fed, set up in front of the television and fireplace to relax and recover from the flu. He didn’t wake up the next morning and was found dead the following afternoon.
Eagles president Darryl Lockwood said the team was deeply saddened to hear about the loss.
“This is a tragic loss. The Canmore Eagles have lost a teammate and friend. Our condolences go out to the Steel family. I can’t imagine what they’re going through,” Lockwood said.
Canmore RCMP Cpl. Darleen White said a standard inquiry was launched because the incident is a sudden death.
“We’re not sure of the cause of death at this time,” said White, “but it is non-suspicious.”
The medical examiners office completed an autopsy on Nov. 14. White said a toxicology report has been ordered. It will take four months to complete; meningitis has been ruled out as a cause, though.
In honour of Steel, the Eagles held a moment of silence at the team’s home game on Nov. 11 against the Camrose Kodiaks at Alex Kaleta Arena. A funeral service was held in Sherwood Park on Wednesday (Nov. 16).
“We’ll work through this as it comes. We’re keeping the players together right now,” Lockwood said.
Steel was in his first year with the Canmore Eagles. As an 18-year-old AJHL rookie, he played rugged fourth line minutes.
The 5 foot 11, 190 pound left winger was born in Sherwood Park and listed his future goal as ‘winning an AJHL championship with the Eagles’ on the team website.
His favourite part about living in Canmore was getting to play hockey every day.
In 2010-2011, he played AAA midget hockey with the Edmonton Canadians, where he scored three goals and two assists in 28 games while recording 40 penalty minutes.
The team will wear Steel’s number 19 on their helmet for the rest of the season.