The hockey world is mourning the death of a young fan who stole many hearts during his team’s playoff run this past spring.
Ben Stelter’s dad Mike announced on social media that his son had passed away at the age of six on Tuesday night.
“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,” Mike wrote.
“Your sisters were so lucky to have you as such a sweet brother. You fought so long and hard and beat so many odds. We love you, our sweet Benny boy.”
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. pic.twitter.com/HWibnZKOxC— Mike Stelter (@m_dan25) August 10, 2022
Ben was a fixture around Rogers Place and on television coverage of the Oilers’ run to the Western Conference Final last season.
He was diagnosed with a brain tumour in the spring of 2021, shortly before his fifth birthday, and went through four rounds of chemotherapy and 30 sessions of radiation to remove it.
Unfortunately, it returned in December 2021 and Ben was once again in an unimaginable battle for his health.
A diehard Oilers fan, Ben was brought to a game in late March 2022 where he got to tour the facilities, meet the players, be on the ice for the national anthems and he even joined Zach Hyman at the podium for post-game media availability.
As the regular season winded down and the Oilers began their playoff run, Ben was basically adopted by the team as a friend and a bit of a good luck charm.
He was close with many of the players and came to almost all of the team’s home games during their run, often delivering the iconic line of “Play La Bamba, baby” after an Oilers’ win.
Much like the story of Laila Anderson during the St. Louis Blues’ cup run in 2019, Ben became a fan favourite to not only Oilers fans, but anyone who was watching the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Despite the battle he had been enduring for well over a year, Ben was always seen with a smile on his face and cheering on his beloved Oilers through thick and thin.
On May 28, he turned six years old and it seemed like the entire hockey world sent him birthday messages through Mike’s Twitter account.
The same was true today, in a more sombre tone, as tributes for Ben from fans, players, teams and more poured in for Ben in the replies to his father’s Twitter post.
“Our hearts are with you and the entire Oilers family,” wrote the Colorado Avalanche Twitter account, the same team that knocked Edmonton out of the playoffs.
“Thanks for sharing Ben with all of us, he was a light to the world.”