Matthew Hutchinson had everything going for him when he graduated from Sutherland Secondary School in 2009 but on Sunday, his friends and family returned to his North Vancouver Alma Mater to celebrate the young hockey player’s short life.
Among the crowd of several hundred was Hutchinson’s former boxing coach Dave Brett.
“I’ve trained him since he was 11 and he was probably the hardest working athlete I’ve ever worked with,” says Brett. “I think that he showed me that you can be absolutely determined and forthright in what you want in life and still come at it with a smile.”
The 24-year-old, known as ‘Hutch,’ became the unlikely victim of a double murder suicide two weeks ago.
Hutchinson was a student at the State University of New York at Geneseo when he and 21-year old Kelsey Annese were stabbed to death by her distraught ex-boyfriend, who later killed himself.
Hutchinson was a popular defenceman with the Geneseo Knights, the SUNY Geneseo Men’s Ice Hockey team.
His university teammates honoured his passion for the game with a moment of silence when they returned to the ice one week after his murder.
While studying in New York, Hutchinson spent three years volunteering with the Geneseo Fire Department.
He made such an impact that a pair of New York firefighters flew in to B.C. for his Celebration of Life.
“He was an exceptional person, truly exceptional…he was just one of those guys you could count on all the time,” says Tom Dillon of the Geneseo Volunteer Fire Department. “I like to say he was one in a thousand…he was just an outstanding individual he touched so many lives,” adds fellow Geneseo volunteer firefighter Ken Richardson.
Hutchinson spent last summer saving lives in his home province, working the front lines of B.C.’s forest fire fight.
But it’s his love of hockey and his leadership on and off the ice that his friends say they’ll never forget.
“He was always kind of the glue guy on the hockey team. He kept the boys together kept them happy and smiling,” recalls his former Bantam hockey teammate Dustin Urdea.
Tammy Mercier, a former North Vancouver Minor Hockey Association manager, remembers Hutchinson’s presence in the room, adding, “he was just a great spirit, he came in and he got everybody going. Let’s go play this game and do our best.”
“I know 50-year-olds that haven’t achieved what he has at such a young age…he brought a gift to a lot of people,” Brett said.