|Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club
EDMONTON - Today is a day of mourning for people half a world apart brought together by the remembrance of Kristians Pelss.
In anticipation of this day, the president of the Edmonton Oilers hockey organization, Kevin Lowe, left late Tuesday night on a trip to Kristians' home town in Latvia. In London, he met up with Oklahoma City Barons Head Coach Todd Nelson and Athletic Trainer Brandon Dionne. From there, the three of them travelled on to Riga, where they connected with Kristians' fellow Latvian-born Oil Kings teammate, Edgars Kulda, and Edgars' father, Alex. Today the five of them drove two hours to Preili, the hometown of Kristians, to attend his funeral, where Kevin delivered a special keepsake to the family.
Meanwhile, back in Edmonton at Rexall Place, Team Chaplain Bruce Gritter will lead some of the Oil Kings and Oilers prospects in a private ceremony this afternoon, as the young men prepare to say their final goodbyes to their lost teammate.
There will be other tributes in the coming months with the various teams Kristians played for in the Oilers family. Some of the players throughout the system have already made use of the counseling services offered to them, as they cope with the loss of the popular player.
Last week the world lost the extraordinary young man after Kristians had gone home for the off-season. The circumstances that led to his death remain unclear. Even though he was just 20 years old, the Oilers draft pick was already showing signs of great promise in his play for the NHL club's affiliated teams in Stockton, California, and Oklahoma City this past season.
Previously, he suited up for two seasons with the Oil Kings, playing an instrumental role in helping the team win the 2012 Western Hockey League Championship. Off the ice he was a marvelous ambassador for the organization, never hesitating to step up for an opportunity to help the community.
The image of a jubilant Kristians Pelss lifting the Ed Chynoweth Cup above his head last year is something teammates and club officials will forever remember. It is a testament to the hard work, perseverance and dedication he played the game with - and approached life with - on a daily basis.
Oil Kings officials wanted to present Kristians with his WHL championship ring face to face when he was to arrive in the city in just a couple of weeks for the Edmonton Oilers Development Camp. Instead, Kevin Lowe concluded his cross-continental journey to Preili, Latvia, today by presenting the ring to Kristians' parents, Einars and Inta, and his three sisters, Lauma, Lasma and Lev.
Kristians Pelss 1992 - 2013
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