SAGINAW, Mich. - The Saginaw Spirit remembered late player Terry Trafford on Saturday night in their first home game since he was found dead in a parked car.
An autopsy determined the 20-year-old Trafford died of self-inflicted asphyxiation. The Toronto native's body was found March 12. He disappeared eight days earlier after receiving discipline from the club.
The Spirit lost the Ontario Hockey League game 6-2 to the London Knights at The Dow Event Center.
London players lined up on their blue line and tapped their sticks on the ice as the Spirit players skated out on the ice. Spirit players aligned on the other blue line and the crowd stood as the team honoured Trafford with a moment of silence and a video montage on the scoreboard above the ice. At the end of the montage, the scoreboard read "One young man. Four years. One team. Many memories."
"Our whole franchise, our whole community, is grieving right now," Spirit President Craig Goslin said. "For four years, Terry was a fixture in this rink. He was a good kid and he did a lot of good things here."
Saginaw players wore "TT16" stickers on their helmet and will honour their former teammate with black patches for the playoffs. Trafford played four seasons with Saginaw, scoring 29 goals in 221 games.
Trafford's funeral is set for Tuesday in Toronto.
"He could really lighten up the room," said Spirit centre Eric Locke, teammates with Trafford for the last three seasons. "He'd make you laugh, make you smile.
"We went back and forth. One time I tied a cup of water near his skate and when he grabbed it the water dumped in his skate so he skated all practice with a wet foot. He got me back by writing a nickname on my helmet that I ended up skating all practice with."