Ice hockey

Mass. hockey community pays touching tribute to teammates and best friends killed in car accident

On Dec. 22, two members of the Falmouth hockey team died in a tragic single-car accident, suffered when the Honda Civic driven by James Lavin skidded off a road and struck a tree following an evening hockey practice. Owen Higgins died from injuries suffered in the crash days later.

Both Lavin and Higgins, who have been described as “inseparable,” were standout athletes in the Falmouth community, now at the local high school, but previously in the youth ranks as well. The impact they had was significant, and has since inspired a wave of touching tributes throughout the Massachusetts hockey community.

After both the Falmouth hockey and football teams attended the players’ funerals in uniform (not to mention buses of student athletes from across the state who came to honor their memories), more than 180 boys and girls hockey programs paid tribute to the teens by hanging their jerseys behind their respective benches, according to the Boston Globe. Here’s a big part of that listThat group includes the Boston Bruins, who hung customized Lavin and Higgins jerseys behind their own home bench at the TD Garden during a game on New Year’s Eve.

When the Falmouth Clippers finally returned to action Wednesday night, they cruised to a 5-0 win that was choked with emotion, from the opening moments when the team skated out with Lavin and Higgins’ jerseys, hung them behind their bench and then took the ice to pat a dedicated on-ice ribbon logo honoring both teens.

By the end of the game, it was clear that getting back on the ice had been a cathartic experience for the Falmouth squad. While they and other Massachusetts teams now shift their attention toward the rest of the 2016-17 season, the legacy of the Clippers stars will surely remain at the forefront of the thoughts of many throughout the Massachusetts hockey community, as they have already.