Hockey is a team game. So, with Wyatt Delage facing the biggest battle of his young life, it’s no surprise his Rockbrune Bros. Movers Barrie Colts Minor Peewee triple-A teammates wanted to be there to offer support to the 11-year-old as he battles cancer.

“We went down to SickKids (Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children) between games Saturday and almost all the boys shaved their heads in support with Wyatt,” Barrie head coach Dave Patriquin said, while trying to fight back his emotions. “They all got together and it was good to see the boys all supporting him. I read what some of them wrote in the card and it was pretty heartfelt. It was nice.”

It’s been an emotional last couple of weeks for the Delage family, his teammates and the minor hockey community since Wyatt was diagnosed with stage 3 mature B cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in early December. Taking to the ice without their ‘brother’ hasn’t been easy. It’s a lot for anyone to process, let alone for a group of 11-year-olds who just know they are missing their friend.

“It’s sometimes kind of hard to know what all is teammates are thinking, what they are all able to process,” admitted Patriquin. “They’re playing for him and I think going into the rink and having an outlet to shut the brain off and just play has been good for them.”

For Wyatt’s parents, Martin and Alicia, it all started when a mass appeared on Wyatt’s abdomen. They sought medical attention right away and were given the devastating news that their son had cancer and it would immediately require aggressive chemotherapy treatments at SickKids for the next six months.

What followed has been an outpouring of support not only from the team and the parents, but from the minor hockey community in and even outside of Barrie. Patriquin has been amazed at how many people have rallied around the youngster and those willing to help out in any way they can, including donating to the Go Fund Me Link: Wyatt’s Warriors #4 (Wyatt Delage), set up to ease the financial burden on Delage family as he goes through his battle.

As of early morning on Dec. 13, $8,090 of the $50,000 goal has been raised.

“It’s nice to see the support from all the different teams,” Patriquin said. “A bunch of teams in our league have been wearing stickers to support Wyatt and there’s been random teams from different areas that reached out to parents on the team they might know that they want to do something. All sorts of people are doing fundraisers. It’s been overwhelming and I know the parents (Martin and Alicia) are fantastic people. I know they are very grateful for all the support people are showing.”

Even rivals on the ice have stepped up to offer support. Patriquin points to a team like the Markham Waxers minor peewee triple-A club.

“When we play in the playoffs, there’s no love lost,” he said of the Waxers. “They were one of the first teams to put the (Wyatt’s Warriors) sticker on their helmet. No questions asked. It’s nice to see the support from everyone.”

On the ice, says Patriquin, Wyatt is a strong defenceman. Not overly flashy with his offensive skills, but he can skate the puck. A good, all-around player.

“You need the puck out, you need to battle in front of the net, need to pick the guys, he’s the guy you are going to want out there,” the Barrie head coach said of Wyatt.

Off the ice, Patriquin says Wyatt is certain to get a laugh out of you.

“He’s funny kid,” he said. “He’s a character and has a great personality. He’s easy going and fun loving, so sometimes you want him to be more focused. But you kind of realize that you’re coaching different kids and everyone prepares differently and he’s the kind of kid that is laughing, having a good time and telling jokes. Then, he goes on the ice and performs. Dials it in.”

Cancer touches so many and at times those close to us. Patriquin’s brother had battled the cancer years ago and now he wants to do all he can to support Wyatt as he goes through his treatment.

“I think everyone has been touched by cancer through family members or friends,” he said. “There’s a lot of kids going through it and when it’s a kid you know and see, it just puts things in perspective and hockey is not that important at the end of the day.”

Thankfully Wyatt’s cancer is treatable and there’s nothing more that his teammates and coach would love to see than Wyatt winning his battle with cancer, so that he can return home to his family and siblings, Macey, Hudson and Luke. So that their ‘brother’ can one day return to the ice and play the game he loves. They’re all positive that he’s going to get through this.

“We’re going to keep battling for Wyatt and support him until he gets through it,” Patriquin said. “Then support him in trying to get back into game shape some day. Hopefully, sooner than later, but obviously he’s got to focus on this more serious battle and get through that.”

Photo: Wyatt Delage, 11, was diagnosed with cancer in early December and the young hockey player is getting plenty of support from his Barrie Colts Minor Peewee teammates and the minor hockey community across the province as he goes through treatments at Toronto’s SickKids Hospital.

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