The last day of school is often a joyous occasion for any child, but for 10-year-old Toronto Eagles forward Alex Shapiro, the last day of school in 2012 would be followed by an array of tests and doctors visits after he noticed his leg was swollen. Alex and his family had their worst fears confirmed days later as the diagnosis came back as cancer. He would start treatment immediately, spending his days recovering and enjoying visits from his Eagles teammates.
Despite his fatigue from chemotherapy, Alex continued to play hockey whenever he could. His first full game back in action, Alex delighted and surprised everyone by netting a goal.
“When he scored his first goal after he was diagnosed with cancer I still remember how crazy everybody went on the bench to this day,” said Alex’s friend and teammate Adam Menikefs. “All the parents were so ecstatic and some of the Mom’s were crying.”
Whether he was scoring goals or cheering on his teammates from the bench, Alex touched the lives of many within the hockey community during his fight with cancer, including Nashville Predators defenceman P.K. Subban, who stayed in touch with Alex consistently throughout his battle.
— P.K. Subban (@PKSubban1) April 13, 2013
After fighting for over a year, Alex tragically passed away on April 12, 2013 at 11-years-old. To keep his spirit alive, parents from the Toronto Eagles, including Alex’s parents, founded the Fighting Eagle Memorial Tournament – a full weekend of hockey open to GTHL and NYHL players born from 2000-2003. All funds raised go to support the SickKids Foundation.
“I have enjoyed watching the kids grow up over the years and this tournament is a great opportunity to re-connect with so many kids that I’ve coached and watched play on other teams over the years,” said Mike McCutchon who coached Alex for five years. “He [Alex] was a truly amazing kid. His passion for the game was unparalleled.”
In addition to a great weekend of hockey, the tournament is an opportunity to catch up with old teammates and remember everything Alex embodied.
“The best part of the tournament is that everyone gets together and remembers who Alex was as a hockey player and a person,” said Alex’s friend Kevin Coleman. “Also, I love the atmosphere and vibe there is at this tournament, it’s fun, competitive, and you get to meet new people.”
The 5th annual Fighting Eagle Memorial Tournament will be held June 23-24 at Canlan Ice Sports in Etobicoke. Visit the official tournament website for more details.