Teammates remember hockey player killed in Langford crash
“Great game, see you tomorrow.”
Those were the last words that Peninsula Panthers forward Grant Gilbertson said to teammate Denver Maloney on Sunday after a 10-3 win over the Saanich Predators.
The 18-year-old died in an accident on Sooke Road on Monday. Gilbertson was driving to hockey practice at around 6 p.m. when the two-vehicle collision occurred near Humpback Road in Langford.
Authorities said it appeared ice was playing a major role in the crash, with one vehicle sinking into oncoming traffic and striking the other.
“There are no words for… there are just no words. It’s hard to talk about it, ”said Panthers defenseman Hunter Jensen.
Right winger Riley Braun said the team were concerned when they were in training on Monday and had not heard from Gilbertson.
“His mother was phoning our landlord, Pete, to ask if you had seen Grant because she knew he had left her house,” he said.
Passers-by attempted first aid on Gilbertson at the scene, but he did not survive.
“There was about 20 minutes left in practice, our owner Pete came in and broke the news to us and it was just a shock wave for everyone,” said Jensen.
Since then, there has been nothing but shock, heartache and devastation as players mourn not only their teammate, but their friend.
Grant Gilbertson is featured during a VIJHL Peninsula Panthers hockey game. (Courtesy of the Peninsula Panthers)
“I just wanted everyone to know how amazing Grant was,” said center Logan Speirs. “And what he did not only for the hockey community, but also for the friends he made and the impact he had on us.”
“The healthiest person you can meet,” said Maloney. “The world is running out of a very awesome person now and Grant is irreplaceable.”
Gilbertson was in his second year with the team and had made his way to the top unit on the power play.
“He was the kind of guy who would light up a room when he walked in,” Braun said.
The team’s Wednesday night game against the Westshore Wolves has been postponed.
With the blessing of Gilbertson’s family, the Panthers return to the ice on Friday, welcoming the Victoria Cougars.
His passion and optimistic attitude will be missed, say his teammates.
“Whether it was a tough loss that we were going through, you would never see him hit his stick, you would never see him with his head down,” Jensen said. “He would sort of find a smile.”
And now the team’s ultimate goal has new meaning, Braun said.
“If our goal wasn’t to win a championship, Grant definitely was. “
A 25- to 30-minute ceremony to celebrate Gilbertson’s life will begin at 7:30 p.m. before the Friday night game.
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe set up to support Gilbertson’s family after his death, had already raised more than $ 25,000 by Wednesday afternoon.
READ MORE: ‘It really is a real tragedy’: The hockey community mourns the death of an 18-year-old in a car crash on his way to training