The Melfort Mustangs lost one of their family members just a few months ago when 18-year-old defenceman Dylan Ashe was tragically killed in a single-vehicle rollover.
On the opening night of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) season, the Melfort Mustangs began the game with a tribute to Ashe, retiring his number and raising it to the rafters.
“Everything has been really difficult, and everything you do the first time is very difficult,” Della Ashe, Dylan’s mom, said. “So tonight coming here was hard and not seeing him on the ice, and seeing his number up on the banner.”
“Yeah, it was super emotional, you know, living with Dylan. I got to know him pretty good last year and we became pretty good friends,” Seth McCulloch, Dylan’s teammate and billet brother, said. “He came down a couple of times in the summer so that was good, other than that it was a super emotional time, but being with the boys kind of helps.”
The team has also dedicated the season to Dylan Ashe. They have his number 27 at both ends of the ice. They will take one of his sticks with him whenever they are on the road, and say he won’t ever be far from their thoughts.
“You know the guys really have really had him in the back of their heads every day,” Trevor Blevins, Mustangs head coach and GM, said. “Like we are going to remember him every day with us too, not just tonight, but moving forward. You know we have dedicated the season to him and his family, and I know everyone in the dressing room wants to play hard for that.”
“Everything that the guys said, and what Trevor said, it was all really nice, and yeah, it’s just really hard,” Della Ashe added.
The night began with a tribute, and thanks to three goals, and some great goaltending, the Mustangs finished with a 3-1 victory over the visiting Flin Flon Bombers, capped off with a salute from the Mustangs to the fans and their former teammate.
It was a hard-fought, scrappy victory that his teammates said he would have loved.
“He would have loved it, you know he loves those chippy kinds of physical games,” McCulloch noted. “He’s a grinder guy and gets in the corners and throws his body around so this for sure would have been his type of game.”