As he skated around the Blues’ net after firing home the Canucks’ third goal, Troy Stecher pointed to the sky and yelled, “Let’s go!”
The goal was meaningful for two reasons: It gave Vancouver the lead for good in their Game 1 win over St. Louis. But it was also Stecher’s first goal since his father, Peter, died on Father’s Day from complications of diabetes. He was 65 years old.
The Canucks defenseman opened up about the loss of his dad to Sportsnet’s Iain MacIntyre last month. Peter Stecher was his son’s first hockey coach and wrote Troy a letter during his rookie season that was never sent. Troy found the letter, which was about how proud his dad was that his hard work led to the NHL, while cleaning out Peter’s apartment.
“I miss my dad every day. It was a big goal at a crucial time,” Stecher said afterward. “We’ve talked about trying to get the win in Game 1 and obviously that gave us the lead, and the boys hunkered down.”
The Canucks knew the magnitude of that goal, not just for the game, but also for their teammate.
“What he went through in the summer was just devastating and I just wanted to go and hug him,” said Elias Pettersson.
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) August 13, 2020
Zack MacEwan and Jacob Markstrom also lost their fathers this season. Both were there for Stecher in his time of need.
“Very emotional for him,” Markstrom said. “I know what he’s going through and it’s not easy. For him to show that kind of emotion, I was just so happy he got it. I got emotional as well just thinking about it. I gave him a big hug after the game and to get rewarded with a goal in a big game with everything he has been going through that’s huge.”
It’s not been easy for the 26-year-old defenseman this summer. But getting back to his teammates when summer training camp opened helped him while he grieved.
“It’s been tough at certain moments throughout this process,” Stecher said. “I’m thankful to be surrounded by my teammates and I had a couple of seconds there to reflect on my dad. And the biggest thing was everybody showed their support on the bench instantly and just motivated me to keep me going.”
No. 4 St. Louis Blues vs. No. 5 Vancouver Canucks (VAN leads series 1-0)
Wednesday, Aug. 12: Vancouver 5, St. Louis 2
Friday, Aug. 14: Vancouver at St. Louis, 6:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Sunday, Aug. 16: St. Louis at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Monday, Aug. 17: St. Louis at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Wednesday, Aug. 19: Vancouver at St. Louis – TBD
*Friday, Aug. 21: St. Louis at Vancouver – TBD
*Sunday, Aug. 23: Vancouver at St. Louis – TBD