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 2009 NYSHSHCA "News on the Surface"


Mother will present award honoring late hockey player

New Hartford's Meyer was killed in 1979 accident

By Ron Moshier, Observer-Dispatch
Friday, April 24, 2009 
NEW HARTFORD ¡ª It was Dec. 11, 1979, and New Hartford High School hockey player Eddie Meyer was on his way to an early morning practice at Hamilton College.

He never made it to Sage Rink.

¡°It was about 5 o¡¯clock in the morning when I got the phone call,¡± said Vivian Kehrer, Meyer¡¯s mother. ¡°It was devastating.¡±

Later that wintry day, her 16-year-old son ¨C a junior forward on a New Hartford hockey team that practiced at Hamilton College because the Recreation Center had not yet been built ¡ª died of injuries suffered in a one-car accident on Kellogg Street in Clinton.

No player has worn Meyer¡¯s No. 22 since the fatal crash.

Every year, the New Hartford Spartans present the ¡°Ed Meyer Memorial Award¡± to a junior hockey player who demonstrates strong skills, good citizenship and is highly committed to the sport.

For the first time in the 30 years since her only son was killed, Vivian Kehrer will present the Meyer Award when New Hartford¡¯s Spartans celebrate their
Division II state championship season during Sunday¡¯s annual team banquet at Stonebridge Golf & Country Club.

¡°I didn¡¯t even know if they were still doing it,¡± said Kehrer, who 25 years ago moved to Sarasota, Fla. ¡°I was looking at an old New Hartford yearbook and I called to see if they still give it out.¡±

When Spartans head coach John Cunningham told her that it was, Kehrer said, ¡°I¡¯m going to do this. I¡¯m coming to hand it out. Coach Cunningham just said, ¡®Well, you¡¯ve picked the best year to come.¡¯ I¡¯m really honored and excited about it. Eddie loved hockey. He had a lot of trophies and he was really devoted to it. Hockey was his thing. Hockey was his life.¡±

Meyer and his family had moved to New Hartford from Suffern, where he was a youth hockey star. At the time, Paul Swancott was the Spartans¡¯ head coach and Cunningham was his assistant coach.

¡°We were excited about having (Meyer). He was a very likeable kid,¡± Cunningham said.

Teammate and close friend Scott McLaughlin was a passenger in Meyer¡¯s Mercury Cougar at the time of the accident.

McLaughlin, also a New Hartford junior, ¡°miraculously¡± escaped serious injury.

¡°We slipped on the ice,¡± McLaughlin, 46, said Friday. ¡°It could have gone either way, but Eddie¡¯s side hit the tree. It was horrific.¡±

McLaughlin still has one of Meyer¡¯s jerseys.

¡°Any time I played hockey (after high school), and I played into my 30s, I always carried Eddie¡¯s number on my back,¡± he said. ¡°Eddie was an awesome hockey player and a great kid. He was very outgoing. He walked into a school where he knew nobody and in no time he had a bunch of friends, and he made that happen.

¡°New Hartford should be proud to honor Eddie Meyer. He deserves to be remembered.¡±

Cunningham remembers police showing up at practice that morning 30 years ago. That¡¯s when the Spartans were informed of the accident.

Meyer died later that afternoon.

¡°It was the first time a lot of our kids and myself had ever lost a teammate like that. Everybody was upset,¡± said Cunningham. ¡°Obviously, a lot of years have passed, but I am excited Eddie¡¯s mother wants to come back and do this. I hope she¡¯s happy that we¡¯ve tried to keep Eddie¡¯s memory alive.¡±

Cunningham said that New Hartford junior Mike Zalewski, this year¡¯s leading scorer and the state¡¯s Division II Player of the Year, will receive the Meyer Memorial Award. Zalewski had 44 goals and 43 assists for the Spartans, who finished 28-2 and won their last 20 games, including a 6-1 victory over Pelham in the Division II state final at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.

Andrew Kelleher, one of the team¡¯s 10 seniors, was the Meyer Award winner last season.

Also Sunday, senior forward Thomas Fiorentino, who scored a team-high 46 goals, will receive the Paul Swancott Award that goes to a senior who best demonstrates sportsmanship, high academic achievement, citizenship and team play. The award is named for the longtime head coach who started the program and coached the Spartans for 28 seasons before retiring in 1990.

Senior goaltender Dylan Smith will receive the Edward Root Memorial Award, given in memory of Mr. Ed Root, a longtime supported of the program and the father of Greg Root, a Spartans goalie in the late 1960s.

Smith, who joined Zalewski, Fiorentino and New Hartford senior defenseman Jake Silberlicht as first-team all-state selections, finished the season with a 23-2 record, a 1.80 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage.



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