Melfort Mustangs player Dylan Ashe was a tough defenceman on the ice, but a kindhearted friend away from the rink, according to a teammate who considers him more like family.
Seth McCulloch said that as teammates and billet brothers, he and Ashe were essentially together 24 hours per day, seven days per week. They’d planned to reunite in Melfort, Sask. on Tuesday, but Ashe died in a single-vehicle rollover Sunday morning northeast of White Fox.
“I still can’t wrap my head around it. I still don’t think it’s real, but I just have to get through it, I guess,” McCulloch told Global News.
Whether having lunch together, hanging out with friends or playing PlayStation, McCulloch said Ashe was like a younger brother to him.
“He was so positive. He just brightens up the room — everything he did, really. He really kept me in check, too,” McCulloch said.
“He was really popular. Everyone loved Dylan.”
In front of his teammates, the 18-year-old had a tough exterior, but at home with his billet family, he was “a softy for sure,” according to McCulloch.
The Mustangs have a team meeting planned for Tuesday. Over the next few days, players will get together, play some pool and golf. When they take the ice for training camp, their late teammate will be at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
“This is going to be a season for Dylan for sure. It’s going to motivate us to do good for him,” McCulloch said.
Dylan’s mother, Della Ashe, said hockey and his team were her son’s life. He’d been working on a grain farm since May and was heading to the lake when the crash happened.
He was supposed to return home to Warman Sunday, and had plans to fix up his beloved 1985 Chevrolet truck in time to make it to this week’s training camp. Purchased for $200 off someone’s field, Dylan and his dad did all the necessary welding and painting.
“They spent that whole summer, like hours and hours, working on this damn truck,” his mother said with a laugh.
More than just a hockey player, Ashe’s mother said her son was kind, caring and easygoing. He was considering a career in the trades and is mourned by three siblings.
During a month with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, Ashe managed to make an impression. In an interview, team general manager Peter Anholt said Ashe had a chance at making the roster.
He was also simply a “really nice kid.”
“You could tell he was a caring kid and somebody that would’ve been a real good character guy with our team,” Anholt said.
A crowdfunding campaign for funeral costs and other expenses nearly tripled its fundraising goal by Monday evening.