The Richmond Sockeyes and the greater hockey community lost a bright light earlier this year with the sudden and tragic passing of Sockeyes alum Ray Sawada.
On Thursday, Nov. 16, the Sockeyes organization will celebrate Sawada’s life and retire his No. 27 jersey prior to their game against the Grandview Steelers. The team is expecting a sellout crowd and will be hosting a silent auction. The club will also honour Sawada’s legacy with scholarships in his name.
“Ray touched the whole community and was a true gentleman,” said Sockeyes president Doug Paterson. “I remember him as a very hard-working, talented winger. He played in a number of alumni games and was always extremely fit.”
A standout with Richmond from 2001 to 2003, Sawada went on to the BCHL with the Nanaimo Clippers for the 2003-04 season and was selected in the second round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the Dallas Stars. A 6-foot-2, 200-pound forward, Sawada earned an NCAA scholarship from Ivy League Cornell University and played for the Big Red for four seasons, finishing as team captain in 2008. He embarked on a professional career that included 11 NHL games with the Stars. He would also make stops in Finland, England and Japan before retiring as a pro in 106.
Sawada joined the fire department at the City of Burnaby in 2017 and also volunteered his time as a hockey coach for his daughters Victoria and Charlotte who will be participating in a mini game between periods of Thursday’s game. Members of the Richmond Fire Department will also be on hand Thursday as will the Burnaby Fire Department marching and pipe bands.
Sawada’s family, including his daughters and wife Nicole, will be on ice for the pregame ceremony as the Sockeyes raise a banner to the rafters, the first such honour the club has bestowed on a former player.