Memoirs of Our Brother
Check out the full podcast episode here.
I was driving home from volunteering when I received a notification on my phone from the team GroupMe. I assumed it had something to do with us getting together to have a little team bonding and paint the outside of our locker room. When I stopped at a red light and read the message that he was gone, my heart sunk into my chest.
My first thought was, “is this a sick joke?” I was about to drive down to the rink to paint the locker room with him in 2 hours.
Immediately I called Charles… “Charles, is this for real?” All he could manage was a “yeah”. From the tone in his voice I knew it was serious and that I had not only lost a teammate, but a brother.
Trefz was never the flashiest player, in fact, he was one of the humblest kids I’ve ever had the honor of sharing the ice with. He’s one of my favorite teammates ever because he never put his own ego ahead of the teams. Trefz played not only for the name in the back of the jersey, but the one on the front as well.
The days and weeks following now seem like a blur. The only thing that helped me cope were my fellow teammates and brothers. In the days following the services, several of his closest hockey friends gathered to share his favorite beer and memories we had with him.
One of my fondest memories of Trefz comes from way off the ice at Frankie Bradley’s for Charles’ 21st. I gave Trefz my drink (he always put the boys first) as I went to the bathroom. Coming out he of the bathroom Trefz looked at me so pissed practically jumping out of his skin saying “Ben, they played Mr. Brightside, they played Mr. Brightside!”
Even though Ryan wanted to dance so bad, he still held on to the drinks. I know he made up for it by singing his heart out.
A day hasn’t passed where I haven’t thought about Ryan and the impact he made on the team and everyone around him. He gave us a prime example of what it means to be a good teammate, friend and person. I take with me each day his example and try to live the same way he did.
I arrived in Sea Isle City, New Jersey for yearly family vacation the night before I found out about Trefz’s passing. I woke up the next morning to a text from our team group me but thought nothing of it, assuming it was about the team-bonding event we had planned for that day that I was not able to attend.
About 10 minutes later I got two calls from teammate Jack Pearce. I let them go to voicemail to try to go back to sleep but when he called a third time I knew something serious was going on.
“Did you see Charles message in the group me?” he asked. I said no, I had literally just woken up. When he told me Trefz was gone I couldn’t even gather words to respond. It was silent for a couple seconds before I let out a “what?” I just remember sitting on the deck in Sea Isle City trying to process what had happened.
It was so hard to fathom how such a great friend, teammate and person was just gone.
The week after I heard the news was obviously very tough. Being around teammates and sharing all the stories we had helped, but it still just felt like a nightmare.
One thing I will always remember about Trefz is his laugh. He had a unique laugh that was contagious.
One specific story comes to mind. It was Trefz, Nick Van Allen and myself at a table in Applebee’s when the team was on a road trip during the 2018-19 season. Trefz got a phone call and had to step outside to take it, shortly after he walked out the waiter brought over a salad he ordered. About 5 minutes later Trefz came back in, sat at the table, looked down at his salad that had been sitting there for a few minutes at that point, then looked up at me and VA saying, “Well I hope my salad didn’t get cold!” He then bursted into his contagious laugh.
It was little things like these that always kept the mood bright and kept smiles on peoples faces, that is something I’ll always remember about Trefz.
I’ll never forget the day that I found out about Trefz. The last thing he ever said to me was “Happy Birthday Smegles” just two days before. Trefz touched my life in a way that no one really has before. I’ve never had someone be such a perfect role model, but also be a great friend.
Working the lines with Ryan my freshman season was one of the most educational experiences of my life. I learned more about the game of hockey and the passion that it takes to preform at the highest level from him.
My favorite moments with Ryan came from the little conversations we would have on the bench in-between shifts. Just talking about the game or what we were going to do after, he always had a dad joke just waiting to be said.
I can truthfully say that Ryan helped shape me into the person that I am today. I remember talking to Charles the day we found out and just being devastated that I lost such a big role model in my life.
Charles reminded me that Trefz never left. He still is, to this day, one of my biggest inspirations on and off the ice. I know that Ryan is with us everyday and especially for every game day.
Trefz meant the world to me as a friend. Since our first semester together freshman year, our friendship grew quickly. Throughout college he was my best friend and we would hang out basically every day.
Our friends would often make fun of us because we were essentially a package. While him and I were best friends, he made friends with anyone and everyone because he was such a friendly and kind individual. Trefz was never the loud one in the locker room, but rather he was the one keeping everyone in check.
Him and I served as officers of the team, so we had responsibilities other than just playing and practicing. He was always on top of his responsibilities. He loved to have fun, but also took the team’s success very seriously.
One of the funniest stories I have of Trefz was when he got his front left tooth knocked out. In a hockey related incident, his front tooth was cracked in half and bleeding everywhere. Trefz, two other teammates, and I all took him to the hospital. Even when he was in so much pain and his tooth was barely in his jaw, Trefz was still making us all laugh in the emergency room.
It is one of my fondest memories because of how much fun we had even in that situation. In August I got a snapshot of Trefz’s toothless smile tattooed on the inside of my bicep to always remember it.
To commemorate Trefz and his family, I asked his parents if they would be willing to drop a ceremonial first puck. They agreed. We also held a 16-second moment of silence to honor Trefz, who wore the number 16. His parents thanked me and the team numerous times for putting together the ceremony. Ryan’s jersey travels with us everywhere we go whether it be the locker room, or the bench, or even the bus on road trips.
It has been weird not having him in the locker room or on the ice, but the team has really grown close and rallied together.
No amount of words could sum of the impact that Trefz had on not only this team, but on everyone he met. Ryan was a mentor, teammate, and friend. Ryan is with us every time we touch the ice and will be with us the rest of our lives. We love you Trefz, see you on game day.
2 thoughts on “Memoirs of Our Brother”
Thank you for sharing your personal memories of Ryan. It was touching.
During Ryan’s life here on Earth, Rich and I spoke many times about how grateful we were that Ryan had such great friends. Friends that were mature, intelligent, focused and beyond that, ones that had great hearts and always had his back. Now that he has passed on, we are even more grateful.
Lately, as life goes on, I sometimes fear that he will be forgotten. Clearly, I no longer need to worry about that. His spirit is with all of us! He will never die. I know this. I see it.
You should all feel proud of your positivity and your ongoing efforts to keep his memories alive.
Thank you to Sam Cohen, WHIP Radio, The Cherry Tribune, Charles, Kyle, Ben, Brendan, and our entire Temple Ice Hockey Family for this cherished gift! Great job!!