If you were there, it was a night you’ll never forget.
It was a very special night at the kick-off to the Silver Stick Hockey Tournament at the Cobourg Community Centre on Friday, November 26, 2021.
The tournament has been running for over two decades. This year over the course of two weekends over 70 teams from across Ontario will be competing from under 10-years-old to under 16-years-old.
But for people that live local and know the story, Friday was a emotional night.
On Friday, 11-year-old Shea Kerin and her family walked out onto the ice and had the honour of dropping the puck to kick-off the tournament.
The Nighthawks organization asked the family if they would like to drop the puck to start the tournament and the family graciously accepted.
On December 2, 2020 an collision claimed the life of 12-year-old Cormac Kerin and critically injured Shea who was airlifted to Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto where she spent months following massive injuries.
The two siblings were waiting for their morning school bus outside their home on the 7th Line, north of Port Hope.
The school bus had stopped, but a car struck the two before they had the chance to board the bus.
A 17-year-old youth from Port Hope is charged with careless driving causing death and careless driving causing bodily harm.
The death gripped the community of Port Hope and surrounding area. Communities were in shock and disbelief.
Throughout Shea’s progress in hospital the family posted updates on their daughter’s fight to survive.
Cormac loved hockey and was a Nighthawks player.
When the family including parents Brendan and Jennifer along with Shea and her older sister Aishling walked into the Cobourg Community Centre they were greeted by hugs, tears and smiles.
The Nighthawks presented jersey’s for the family with Cormac’s number on each.
A Nighthawks puck with “Cormac #17″ was presented to Shea. She immediately pointed at her brothers name on the puck.
During the opening ceremonies there was a moment of silence in honour of Cormac before the puck drop.
Emcee Joel Scott said, “Cormac embodied the spirit of what the Nighthawks preserve and promote with all members of our hockey community. Leadership, perseverance, hard work, dedication, friendship, camaraderie, service, support for teammates, friend and family and most of all fun.”
The Captains of both the Nighthawks and Kanata Blazers were called to centre ice, followed by the Kerin family and dignitaries.
After posing for a photo, Shea dropped the puck. Shortly after, Shea, Aishling and mom Jennifer were presented with bouquets of flowers from the Nighthawk players.
Moments later. The game was on with each player of the Nighthawks have Cormac’s name and number on their helmet.
Brendan Kerin graciously spent a few minutes speaking to Today’s Northumberland about the tragedy and triumph of the last year.
What the Nighthawks did for the family, “was really touching to say the least.”
His son loved playing hockey, and loved playing for the Northumberland Nighthawks.
“To have this little ceremony today helped a lot of us just to have some closure.”
“It was an incredible classy thing to do from the organization.”
Shea was very protective of her older brother and had been looking forward to Friday night.
“I know she was very determined just to be able to get out and drop the puck. She misses her brother, she loves him and she’s proud of him. We’re very close.”
Over the course of the past year, Kerin has been providing updates on his daughter’s progress in her recovery and the gratitude the family has had for the community.
“She’s doing well – beyond our expectations.”
Shea is back at school in grade six at St. Anthony Catholic School in Port Hope.
“She’s doing remarkably well at school. She’s settled in, integrated well.”
But Kerin said there is still a long road ahead.
“We’ve got a lot of complexities still. Working with her vocal cords. She had a very serious brain trauma injury so it takes time. It’s going to take a lot of time.”
“But so far, so good.”
Kerin said Shea is a determined, charming young lady who has made a lot of friends along the way.
The support and love from the community that the Kerin family has felt is hard to put into words.
“It is truly one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen, has been the generosity, the kindness, the thoughtfulness of everyone.”
“It’s hard to truly express what everyone has done for our family to give us support to help us get through it.”
Kerin said that his daughter’s survival is a Northumberland miracle giving credit to everyone involved that day and in the days, weeks and months following.
“The first responders, the health care team at Northumberland Hills (Hospital) – it’s their big win.”
“We’ll always be grateful for the heroism and professionalism of those people on that day.”
Sick Kids Hospital is where Shea has spent the better part of a year and the family can’t say enough about them.
“We miss them.”
“They are incredible people, but we’re glad we’re home.”
Kerin said in the near future he hopes his family can help Sick Kids with their fundraising for a new hospital.
“It’s worth it – for all of us. For every citizen in our province that has a child that may have that unbelievable time where you might have to go to Sick Kids for whatever reason. That place is a place of miracles and that’s where they create them.”
The Nighthawks lost the game 9-1 to Kanata on Friday night but there was something bigger than the game that night at the Cobourg Community Centre.
A miracle happened when a little girl wearing a Nighthawks jersey with her brothers name and number on the back walked out onto the ice with a puck.