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Fans will gather at Ball Arena on Friday night for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final with a chance to see the Avalanche take down the Lightning for their first title in 21 years, but one die-hard won’t be allowed to attend.
Ryan Clark lost his best friend Kyle Stark unexpectedly last December. The pair loved to attend Avalanche games together at Ball Arena after meeting as coworkers in 2009, then becoming roommates and best friends. Stark was the best man at Clark’s wedding. They bonded over their love of hockey.
When Stark suddenly died just days before Christmas, Clark knew how to honor his late friend. On January 8, Clark poured some of Stark’s ashes over the glass and onto the ice at Ball Arena.
“The usher asked me, ‘What was that?’ I gotta be honest with you. It was my friend. ‘What do you mean?’ I said, well he passed away. Yesterday was his service and I spread some of his ashes out there,” Clark said.
The grieving friend was taken to the concourse where he spoke with security and was escorted out of the building.
“I knew what I did was considered wrong. I owned up to it the second it happened,” Clark said.
Soon after the incident, Clark received a letter informing him that he was not welcome at Ball Arena for any Avalanche games or team-related events for the remainder of the season. He was informed of the ban months before he knew the Avalanche would be playing in the Stanley Cup Final.
While Clark says it’s been hard watching the playoffs at home without his best friend, he knows he would still do it all over again.
“If you’ve ever seen ‘Angels in the Outfield,’ like this is just the hockey version, so when they’re at home and they need a little assistance, my boy’s out there to assist,” Clark said.
Clark feels fortunate to be able to talk about Stark again. He believes his best friend is watching over the Avalanche, who can wrap up its first championship since 2001 with a victory in Denver on Friday.
“It’s fantastic to be able to talk about him. Because the last few months have just kind of been, this or that, and then when the playoffs hit, that’s when I wish he was here. I really, really wish he was here at this point,” Clark said.
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