On Tuesday, November 22, the Airdrie Techmation Thunder learned of the passing of one of the siblings of their players. Ryan Couling, the brother of Thunder player Zach Couling lost his 20-month battle with a rare liver cancer.
"[He] passed away Tuesday night while the boys were on the ice for practice. Thank goodness [Zach] back was at home with his brother," said Shaun Guest, the team’s general manager.
As the Couling family deals with the insurmountable loss of their son, the hockey community has closed ranks among them. At tonight's game at the Ron Ebbesen Arena, a moment of silence will be observed in honour of Ryan. Guest said that the Couling family will be in attendance for the 8 p.m. game against the Rocky Rams.
"It's going to be a pretty emotional day. Three of our boys took a signed jersey with the thunder logo that the team signed and they got to visit [Ryan] on Saturday, which was great," he said. "On top of that, the Rocky Rams contacted us and they have stickers on their helmets with Ryan's initials."
President of the Hockey Club Gord Ziegler announced that all the proceeds from the ticket sales, apparel sales, and the 50/50 raffle tonight will be matched and donated to the Coulings. As the Thunder prepare for a three-game weekend, the Medicine Hat Cubs, which the Thunder will play on Sunday have also pledged to observe a moment of silence for Ryan as well as donate funds from Sunday's game to the family.
Guest observed that how the hockey community has come together for the Coulings speaks to how close-knit Airdrie is.
"We know that we're gonna get an outpouring of support and we're here for a reason; we're proud of this community and we definitely appreciate it," Guest said.
A gofundme campaign that was established on behalf of Ryan has raised nearly $80,000 dollars.
In a social media post, the Airdrie Thunder wrote that Couling was a warrior and an inspiration to everyone that knew him.
"Today we lost a friend, teammate, brother, son…a hero! Our deepest condolences to the Couling family and all that knew Ryan. Rest In Peace," a tweet read.
Couling was 20 years old when he passed away.
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