Friends, family and the hockey community are mourning the loss of Saginaw Spirit forward Terry Trafford after his body was discovered on Tuesday evening. The Ontario Hockey League team said it had been notified by the Michigan State Police that the body was that of the 20-year-old Toronto native.
"Our deepest condolences are with Terry’s family and his friends both in Ontario and Michigan," said the team in release. "Terry played on our team and was a member of the Spirit family for the last four years and he will be missed."
A cause of death has yet to be released by Michigan State Police, who are still investigating.
OHL commissioner Dave Branch also released a statement in which he said counseling would be made available to all teams in the league. The OHL also postponed Saginaw's game against the Soo Greyhounds scheduled for Wednesday night.
"We will work closely with the Saginaw Spirit to provide any support required to the players and staff during this very difficult time," said Branch. "In addition, all of our teams will be offering support to their players."
Trafford had been missing since March 3. He was last seen at the Dow Event Center in Saginaw, the home rink of the Spirit. It was believed he was heading back home to Toronto, but authorities said they had no record of Trafford crossing the border.
According to Spirit team president, Craig Goslin, Trafford had been sent home by the team for a "rules violation" though he did not divulge any further details.
On Monday, Trafford's girlfriend Skye Cieszlak, told Yahoo Sports that Trafford had been distraught over being sent home by the team. He told her he feared his four-year junior hockey career was over.
“When I spoke to him he was completely devastated because he told me that the Spirit sent him home for good and that they didn’t want him back on the team because he had gotten in trouble,” said Cieszlak on Monday morning. “That’s what Terry had told me.”
Cieszlak said she asked him to come to her house to talk about the situation because she was concerned about his state of mind.
“I told him I would help him get through it and we would be fine,” said Cieszlak. “I told him if he wasn’t on the team anymore we could work something out and take classes.
“I tried to calm him down.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Lt. Brian Cole of the Michigan State Police said the vehicle matching the description of Trafford's truck was found in a parking lot behind a local Walmart in Saginaw Township. The discovery of the car, matching Trafford's green Chevy pick-up, was made by a trooper patrolling the parking lot.
As the news spread fans, friends, opponents and teammates alike took to social media to pay tribute to Trafford.
The news breaks my heart. Hockey should never be the reason for this. We grow up playing the game with love. RIP Terry Trafford. Love u bro
— Chris Marchese (@marchese61) March 11, 2014
Absolutely horrible news about Terry Trafford. Played with him and against in minor hockey. Great guy, prayers out to his family — Sean Monahan (@Monahan20) March 11, 2014
RIP Terry Trafford. You were an amazing teammate but an even better friend. Forever in our hearts.… http://t.co/lirOK3WtOt
— Nick Moutrey (@Moutrey91) March 12, 2014
Former teammate Gregg Sutch, who played with Trafford in Saginaw took to Instagram to remember his friend.
"Traff, his nickname with the boys, was a great teammate and a better guy," wrote Sutch. "Always known for being a prankster in the room, sometimes he drove you up the wall, but no matter what, you loved Traff. Traff had the biggest smile that was contagious along with a laugh that cracked the whole team up.
"Rest in peace Traff, I miss you already man, and I love you brother."
- Sports & Recreation
- Saginaw Spirit
- Michigan State Police