The community of Whitecourt took to the ice Saturday to remember two boys killed by their father one year ago.
The Whitecourt Wolverines played a memorial hockey game in honour of the team's owners, Tracy and Brent Stark. They lost their sons Ryder and Radek MacDougall in a double murder-suicide. The bodies of the 13-year-old and 11-year-old, respectively, were found in a Spruce Grove home along with the body of their father, Cory MacDougall, on Dec. 19 last year.
In the year since Ryder and Radek died, the community of Whitecourt has united to show support for the boys' mother and stepfather.
"Anything we can do to ease any sort of heartbreak or heartache during this time of year, that's definitely what we're trying to do," said Andrew Peard, who helped organize the memorial match.
Family friend and former manager of the Whitecourt Wolverines Joey Bouchard said the event was fitting for the memorial of Ryder and Radek.
"They loved hockey," he said. "It's all they talked about was hockey."
Community members wrote messages of hope to the Starks on the ice at the Whitecourt Twin Arenas, home of the AJHL hockey team. The messages remained on the ice for the memorial game against the Spruce Grove Saints on Saturday.
The mother of the boys left a message for Ryder and Radek earlier in the day.
"It's unbelievable to see the strength and courage that she's shown," Peard said.
The ice was covered with messages of love and support from the community ahead of the game. Support for the parents has been consistent since the passing of the boys, Bouchard said.
"They're special people that, you know, have a lot of support from the community and friends," he said. "But it's definitely been a difficult time for them and for everybody that knows them."
The hockey team also unveiled new jerseys that honour Ryder and Radek.
"There's nothing we can do to make everything better," Peard said. "But we think that just doing this will at least give them some sort of support and something they can fall back on."