EAST MEADOW, N.Y. – When the New York Islanders hold their annual Hockey Fights Cancer night on Sunday, forward Shane Prince will have a friend on his mind.
Dubbed the Lil Fighter, Patrick Carr left an imprint on Prince during the first year of the summer hockey camp that he runs with his father, Dan.
“He was the coach’s favorite guy,” Prince told Yahoo Sports on Saturday. “He just gave it everything he had, especially if you knew what he was going through. It was truly amazing, just 110 percent every day. He didn’t want anyone to know what he was going through. He just wanted to play hockey. He was the most passionate guy for the game.”
What Patrick was battling, which not many knew about at the time, was neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that is common among children 5 and younger. His battle began when he was 4 and lasted seven years.
Prince was one of those unaware of Patrick’s fight intially, and the Lil Fighter wouldn’t let cancer keep him away from the ice.
“We’re putting him through the ringer, they’re tough skates,” Prince said. “After a few weeks we learned what he was going through, chemo hours before the skate and he still showed up. [He] wouldn’t let his mom keep him home.”
Inspired by Patrick, Prince and his father want to do something for the young hockey player, so they came up with the idea to organize a summer beach hockey tournament at Lake Ontario Beach in his hometown of Rochester, New York.
The tournament features adult and youth divisions with around 40 teams involved. Mini soccer balls serve as pucks and kids use regular hockey sticks while adults use field hockey sticks. A number of local NCAA Division I and major junior hockey players participate; even Prince’s former Ottawa Senators teammate, Clarke MacArthur, has taken part.
Sadly, just before the first tournament in 2015, 11-year-old Patrick passed away. The money raised during the first Beach Hockey Classic went to his fund. The 2016 edition saw over $17,000 go to Golisano’s Children’s Hospital in Rochester, where Patrick received all of his treatments.
The prize for the tournament victors is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship made by Prince’s dad, which took him two months to build.
Behold the Patrick Carr Memorial Sandley Cup!
While Prince is still in search of his first Stanley Cup conquest in the NHL, he does have his name on the Sandley Cup after winning it during the inaugural tournament.
“It’s actually highly, highly competitive,” said Prince. “It gets real intense.”
The local community interest in the tournament, from sponsors to volunteers to participants, has grown since the first year. Everyone has wanted to lend a hand and help out in any possible way that they can to help honor Patrick.
“The first year we had the whole Patrick thing behind it and everyone in the community knew about it, so everyone wanted to be a part of it,” Prince said. “From the first year it exploded just due to Patrick’s story. Once you hear it it’s kind of hard not to be inspired and want to a part of it.”
– – – – – – –