EDMONTON – Family, friends and former teammates of a young Edmonton hockey player who died during a Midget hockey game are coming together this weekend to publicly honour him.
Kyle Fundytus died after being hit in the neck with a puck during a game just over two years ago.
“I was actually on the bench. But I saw, directly across from it,” said 19-year-old Casey Shott, a teammate who witnessed the accident. “To have that happen to him, it was just a shock. It really hit us all hard, because you never would have expected that.”
WATCH: Tribute to Kyle Fundytus
Shott now plays goal for the Leduc Riggers while attending the University of Alberta. He’s also started a business called Shott Customs, specializing in the creation of custom painted goalie masks.
“When I was a kid I always wanted to have a painted helmet. And eventually when I got older this was the easiest way to do it other than paying someone else to do it,” said Shott, who started customizing goalie masks when he was in Grade 11.
“It’s more of a side project than anything else, and just a way to help out other goalies and kind of build a portfolio. And hopefully one day maybe I can expand it into something more serious.”
Shott has already designed about 40 custom masks, including one for Brandon Wheat Kings goaltender, Jordan Papirny.
“For the mask it was really simple, I just told him exactly what I wanted and he did an unbelievable job,” said the 17-year-old WHL player.
Papirny also grew up with Fundytus. The pair went to junior high school together and played on the South Side Athletic Club. As a way to honour his friend, Papirny had the words ‘Play for Fundy’ painted on the backplate of his mask.
“I thought it was very important to show my respect for Kyle.”
“It’s just keeping him in the back of your mind whenever you’re playing,” Shott said of the ‘Play for Fundy’ logo. “Don’t take it for granted, be happy that you are playing and that you can keep playing. Because you never know.
“Any way I could kind of keep his memory alive, I would do that.”
And the young men aren’t alone in wanting to keep Fundytus’ memory alive.
Since his death, Rink ‘A’ at the Mill Woods Recreation Centre has been renamed the Kyle Fundytus Rink. And on Sunday, a tribute to the fallen defenceman will take place at 2:45 p.m.
Papirny and Shott will both be in attendance.
“It will be emotional for everyone, but we’re all there for the same cause,” Papirny said. “Just to kind of get that closure. Obviously, it’ll be very important for everyone there, including myself, just to see everyone who’s been affected by the situation.”
“I think it’s great that they’re doing that and I think it’s what Kyle would have wanted. I’m sure he’d be laughing if he saw us all there just gathered around, there for him and for hockey. It was just so big in his life,” Shott added.
With files from John Sexsmith, Global Sports.