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'He was a leader': Teammates mourn Slave Lake hockey star

A Slave Lake hockey captain was remembered by his teammates Friday night as they played the game that he loved.

'He was always a role model,' coach says of Tyler Emes, who was found dead in Edmonton on Sunday

'Tyler's memory will live on' 1:09

A Slave Lake hockey captain was remembered by his teammates Friday night as they played the game that he loved.

Tyler Emes' team, the Slave Lake Thunder, took to the ice Friday night against Edson in a regular-season matchup.

Emes, 18, was on everyone's mind as the community filled the arena. Emes was reported missing after a night out at an Edmonton nightclub, and was found dead Sunday. Sources say he died of hypothermia. Emes had recently moved to the city for university. 

"I know it's a tough time for the community, so everybody is coming together," said Anthony Beaver, who plays for the Thunder.

Emes was the team's captain last season. It was the first year Beaver had played with him.

"Over the season, we became close friends," Beaver said.

Anthony Beaver played with Emes last season. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

Teammates have supported each other through the tragedy, Beaver said.

"We're just all coming together and making it easier for one another so it's not as hard going through this by ourselves," Beaver said.

Domino Der, who coached Emes in peewee and bantam hockey, said the teen captained many of the teams he played on during his minor hockey career.

The town is still coming to terms with Emes' death almost a week later.

"You knew he was a leader. He was always a role model," Der said. "It's been really tough for the community the past few days."

Domino Der coached Emes in his peewee and bantam years. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

'Tyler's memory will live on'

Alex Pavcek, who coached Emes in his last year of midget hockey, was a linesman for Friday's game against Edson.

"Tyler embodied the symbol of minor hockey: work hard, always show up to play, and most of all, have fun," Pavcek said on the ice before the game.

"Tyler's memory will live on with each and every one of us."

That memory may also live on for future students in Slave Lake — his family has started the Tyler Emes Memorial Fund. At a celebration of life earlier Friday at a hall in Slave Lake, hundreds of people gathered to remember him, with mourners lined up outside the door.

Donations collected there went towards the memorial fund, as did the proceeds from the 50/50 at the hockey game.

Though the family isn't sure what they are going to do with the funds, there's talk of creating a scholarship for students who excel at both athletics and academics — just like Tyler did.

The Thunder lost 5-4 on Friday, but Emes' former teammates played hard. It's exactly what Emes would have wanted them to do.

"He was my captain," Beaver said. "We all just want to go out there and play our hearts out for him."

A plaque was made up in honour of Emes' time with the Slave Lake Thunder. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

About the Author

Kyle Muzyka

Journalist

Kyle Muzyka is a Métis journalist on secondment for CBC Unreserved. He's worked at CBC Yellowknife and at CBC Edmonton for more than three years. Reach him at kyle.muzyka@cbc.ca.