Stephen Patrick Russell
May 22, 1986-July 4, 2009
- Stephen Russell was born in Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland, on Canada’s East Coast.
He stepped on the ice and in the net for the first time at the age of twelve, working hard to catch up to teammates who had played the game for years before him.
Prior to moving to the United States, Stephen played AAA hockey for the Grand Prairie Storm in Alberta. Stephen was part of the NC State hockey club from 2006-2009.
He was passionate and intense about hockey, and as one teammate put it, “he would make the same effort to save the 200th shot at practice as he would an OT shot in a crucial game.”
- On July 4th, 2009, the Wolfpack lost Stephen.
At the time of his death, Stephen was a rising senior at NC State University where he was studying political science. Stephen loved the spirit of competition, the camaraderie of a team, and the simple joy of a good game of hockey.
The team retired his jersey in November, 2009, one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon an athlete.
His teammates and coaches felt he represented the best of their sport and the program. His legacy and positive approach to life will live on in this tournament, and in the hearts of those who loved him.
NC State Jersey Retirement-November 2009
- Following Stephen’s death, the team announced they would be retiring his jersey. On the Home Opener night in November 2009, Coach David Kurtz spoke to the packed house about the grief of the team, and how difficult it has been to not see Stephen in the locker room, or leading the boys out on the ice for a big game.
Players and coaches alike, strengthened by his passion for the game, his love for the team, and the impact he made on his WolfPack family wore patches of remembrance, renamed the yearly tournament and retired the #20 from the Wolfpack roster.
- Considered the highest honor in sports, the team retired Stephen’s jersey and number in a moving ceremony that included Stephen’s family, teammates, and closest friends.
In a final gesture of friendship, the ceremony ends with lights dimmed, and his teammates saying one last good-bye to their teammate, tapping the posts of the net he proudly defended for the WolfPack team.
To watch the complete ceremony, click on the video below.