Saturday, April 11, 2020 was not a good day. The hockey community lost two stars, while the world lost two good men. Alongside the countless lives taken from the current COVID-19 pandemic, it was a day of sorrow across western Canada.
News broke early Saturday morning that Colby Cave – a forward from North Battleford, Saskatchewan – currently playing for the National Hockey League’s Edmonton Oilers – had passed away following a medically-induced coma, while in Critical Care at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital. Cave had experienced pressure in his head and was rushed to the hospital earlier this past week, where he underwent emergency surgery to remove a colloid cyst and stop a brain bleed. He was placed in a coma to assist with surgery, in hopes he would awaken post-op.
His eyes never re-opened. Colby Cave was 25.
Later in the day, it was announced that former Manitoba Junior Hockey League forward Shane Goodrunning had also passed. The three-year Waywayseecappo Wolverine of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta had been missing from his current residence in Alberta for nearly a week prior to his death. Despite desperate pleas for his return from family and friends, Saturday evening marked a troublesome ending to the search for Shane.
He never did return home. Shane Goodrunning was 28.
Colby Cave, who was recently married to the love of his life this past July, had a promising NHL career ahead of him. Beginning with the Boston Bruins organization, the offensive spark plug relied on the grit and toughness he had picked up in the Western Hockey League through his four seasons with Swift Current, dealing with life as a professional hockey player.
Bouncing between Providence and Boston, Cave eventually found himself picked up off Waivers by the Edmonton Oilers. He established himself as a reliable, checking forward, never afraid to step up for a teammate in need of some protection. Cave had four goals, nine points and 22 penalty minutes in 67 NHL games, while adding 54 goals, 138 points and 145 penalty minutes in 283 AHL contests.
April 20th would have been Shane Goodrunning’s 29th birthday. A family man who was father to his seven-year-old ‘baby girl’, was known through his community as an avid summer league baseball player – a shortstop – with a longingness to succeed, both on and off the field. A former junior and senior hockey star, Goodrunning held a high liking wherever it was he laced up.
Following a very brief stint with the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Flin Flon Bombers, Goodrunning began his career with the MJHL’s Waywayseecappo Wolverines. He instantly became a fan-favourite, putting up 63 goals and 131 points in 134 regular season games. The stocky, 5-foot-10 speedster also had a knack for the rough stuff, as he collected 177 minutes in penalties through his MJHL career. Goodrunning has since suited up with the Rocky Rams and the Blackfalds Sr Wranglers of the North Central Hockey League.
Although both Cave and Goodrunning had the skillsets to find success in goal and point-scoring alone, they each had the internal instinct to step up for downed teammates, or ‘answer the call’ when challenged following hefty collisions. Interestingly enough, both Cave and Goodrunning shared interesting textual messages that spoke to their character, just weeks prior to their respective deaths.
When a Waywayseecappo Wolverines fan posted a message on Facebook saying that the team “needed Shane Goodrunning” to help in its pursuit of the Turnbull Cup, Goodrunning responded in such a way:
“They don’t need anyone. Just have to play hard as a TEAM, and not worry about the refs; stay focused on the game you’re playing. Don’t quit playing until the game is done.”
Earlier in the AHL season, Colby Cave knocked out Stockton’s Martin Pospisil during a spirited tilt. Pospisil later shared a message that Cave had sent to his phone following the fight:
“Hey buddy, it’s Cave from the other side. Just wanted to reach out and hope you’re okay, buddy. Hate seeing that. You’re a tough kid and I respect a guy that stands up for himself. Hope you have a quick recovery buddy.”
Despite the brief lead-ups to the deaths of both Colby Cave and Shane Goodrunning, the two separate tragedies came without warning. In passing, loved ones of both young men are now left with the heartbreaking task of picking up the pieces while attempting to start anew. Sometimes things just don’t make sense.
Rest in peace Colby Cave.
Rest in peace Shane Goodrunning.