Hamburg hockey coach John McFall will never forget the sight of Nick Ranger walking into the locker room last year.
Just two days earlier, Nick’s family had suffered the heartbreaking loss of his mom, Mary Lynn, at the age of 53. So McFall, and the entire team, certainly would have understood if Nick was too upset to play. But Nick felt the best way he could honor his mom was by being on the ice.
"Right after things happened last year, I wasn’t sure if he was going to want to play the next game," McFall recalled, while sitting on a bench inside Harbor-Center. "I think he decided about an hour before game time, ‘I’m gonna come.’ We played Orchard Park that day. We got beat, 9-0. I think they could have let in every shot and still won, because we didn’t have more than seven shots. It was one of our tough games, but it was one of our best games because these kids rallied around Nick. Orchard Park knew all about it. Their families had a collection at the game. Just to see him walk into the locker room that day … didn’t even have dress clothes on. I think he was in sweats because he decided to come at the last minute. It was very uplifting."
One year later, Nick and his brother, Adam, were back on the ice with their Bulldog hockey family. They knew their mom would have wanted it that way.