Leafs' Marner deeply affected by the murder of star goalie

“It's brutal...”

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I am sure you remember that tragic incident that took place a few weeks ago, when a 39-year-old woman and her 15-year-old son were found dead in an Ajax home. Her 13-year-old daughter was also found in the home with life-threatening injuries, and died in hospital late Wednesday night. The 15-year-old was identified as Roy Pejcinovski, a star goalie with the Don Mills Flyers bantam AAA hockey team.

Team president Peter MacInnis said in a statement that Pejcinovski’s death is a “tremendous loss” for the Flyers, which are currently in the city finals to represent the Greater Toronto Area for the provincial championship.

“It’s tough for the players on the team, the parents, the staff — he was a great kid,” MacInnis told The Canadian Press. “And his buddies on the team are 14 or 15, how do you deal with that?”

“He was an elite athlete, he was absolutely the team’s No. 1 goalie and he has been for several years,” he said, adding that grief counsellors were brought in at Wednesday night’s practice to break the news to Pejcinovski’s teammates.

His teammates and coaches were not the only ones to think so highly of Pejcinovski. Toronto Maple Leafs top forward Mitch Marner has decided to bring support to the family and awareness to the tragedy after he realized his career in the National Hockey League allowed him to move people and make a real difference outside of the rink. 

I started noticing I had the power when I was in London — going to hospitals, talking to the kids and enjoying those moments. Now, I’m in Toronto, the biggest hockey market. Even people who don’t follow you [on social media] see your tweets — that’s the thing that’s special about this,” Marner said to Sportsnet. 

“We have a platform we can express ourselves on that can bring a lot of awareness and help out. I’m trying to do that, and I think we can all do that. If you believe in something and can help out, you shouldn’t be afraid.”

The Pejcinovski Family Memorial Fund was established in their honour. The funds are being directed to causes including domestic violence and children initiatives such as sport and play.

Marner played his minor midget year, 2012-13, with the Flyers. He was not a teammate of Roy, and never met him personally, but he is surrounded by people who know the family well and still maintains ties to the GTHL organization. Hence why he was so eager to help and make a difference. 

“I heard how good of a goalie he was, heard how good of a person he was. That’s just a heartbreaking thing. It’s a crappy thing in this world right now — the amount of people we’re losing to incidents that shouldn’t be happening,” Marner says.

My trainer in minor midget is now the trainer of that team. After I tweeted that, I heard his reaction off of it and just how heartbroken his team was. It’s brutal. It sucks that stuff like this still happens in our world. I just think it’s important to get awareness out there. It’s terrifying to think that could happen to anyone.”

“The world has lost a great hockey player, but not just that—a great person and a family. They’re all so young, you’ll never see what they’ll grow up to be,” says Marner.

The Pejcinovski family has let the former Flyers star and now Leafs player know they’re grateful for helping them at this difficult time. 

They’re very thankful. The hockey world, the movement they’re doing for them, it’s crazy to see that. It’s awesome. Anything we can do to help them out, that’s what we need to do,” Marner says.

“My life, personally, that’s the bigger picture here. Obviously, you want to be remembered as a great hockey player, but me, I want to be known more for what I do off the ice to help people by trying to bring awareness to things like this.”