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Oiler's superfan remembered

Oilers captain Connor McDavid said the relationship he developed with Ben over the course of the year is something he will not forget.
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Ben Stelter, 6, captured the heart of many a hockey fan with his inspirational nature. Ben died on Aug. 9, 2022, due to cancer. MIKE STELTER/Facebook

Six-year-old St. Albert resident and viral hockey fan, Ben Stelter, died on Tuesday.

On Aug. 10, his father Mike Stelter announced in a social media post that his son Ben, an Edmonton Oilers superfan who had brain cancer, had died.

“The world lost the most special boy and an absolute hero last night. Ben, you were the best son we could ever hope for, and you were my best bud ever. Your sisters were so lucky to have you as such a sweet brother. You fought so long and hard and beat so many odds. You truly changed the world and did so much good in your short time here,” the post read.

Ben won the hearts of hockey fans the world over when he became the Scotiabank Skater on March 24, and he became a viral sensation as he continued to cheer the Oilers on throughout the Stanley Cup playoff season.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, left winger Zach Hyman, and coach Jay Woodcroft spoke with the press on Thursday about the impact Ben had on their lives.

McDavid said the relationship he developed with Ben over the course of the year is something he will not forget.

“He was an amazing little guy who lit up every single room he was in,” he said.

In response to a reporter’s question about how he met Ben, McDavid said Mike initially messaged the Oilers on Twitter and they responded.

McDavid said in September of last year he got the chance to meet Ben.

“I fell in love with him immediately,” McDavid said.

Hyman spoke about the moment Ben joined him at a post-game media availability on March 24.

Ben was not nervous or shy, said Hyman, he was ready and excited to go on stage.

“I think that's the reason the whole hockey community, and the world for that matter, were so attached to him, was not for what he was going through, but for who he was,” said Hyman.

Woodcroft said Ben defined what a bright light was.

“Not only did he walk into our dressing room and arena and light up our team, but I thought he lit up our fan base,” Woodcroft said.

On April 28, Upper Deck released a Heroic Inspiration card of Ben. The card featured Ben on the ice in full Oilers regalia speaking to his favourite player, Connor McDavid — as confirmed by his March 24 media availability. 

In a social media post, Mike said Ben had glioblastoma, which the Brian Tumor Foundation of Canada describes as a common and aggressive malignant primary brain tumour.

Ben was a kindergarten student at Ronald Harvey Elementary School and a “leader in the greater community as we all cheered on the Oilers during their recent playoff run,” said St. Albert Public Schools in a social media post.

The school board will be lowering all flags in the division in honour of Ben.

“He touched so many lives and showed us all how to be brave and strong in the most difficult times … We encourage those who were touched by Ben’s spirit to 'Play La Bamba, baby,'” the social media post read.

News of Ben’s passing spread quickly across social media, with many people speaking about the impact he had on the larger community.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney also sent his condolences to the family.

“Mike, thank you for sharing your son’s brave journey with all of us. His courage and spirit inspired an entire province and captivated hockey fans everywhere.

“God bless you and your beautiful family at this time,” said Kenney in a social media post.

The Gazette reached out to both Ben's family and his school. Each said they were not up to doing interviews at this time.