WICHITA, Kan. – Adam Calder gave cancer one hell of a fight.
But on Friday, surrounded by his family, his four-year battle with the disease came to an end. Calder was 42 years old.
On the ice, there wasn’t much Calder couldn’t do and didn’t win.
The top-end forward for the South Carolina Stingrays and Wichita Thunder dazzled fans across the ECHL & the former Central Hockey League for five seasons with incredible vision and a very underrated shot. He put up 335 points (106G, 229A) in 307 games at the double-A level and won a Kelly Cup championship in 2000-01 with the South Carolina Stingrays.
“He was a gifted hockey player with a knack for getting to the front of the net and scoring the big goals,” South Carolina Stingrays President Rob Concannon told The Sin Bin during a 2016 interview. “He wasn’t afraid to give it back, either.”
While in Wichita during the 2003-04 season, Calder was part of an offensive corps with franchise mainstays Jason Duda and Travis Clayton (soon to be joined by Joe Blaznek) and centerman Mark Kolesar. The quintet helped get Wichita back to the Central Hockey League playoffs, where they lost in the league semifinals to the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs in five games.
After that season, Calder left North America and joined the Coventry Blaze of the Elite Ice Hockey League. It was there where his career soared.
With Coventry, he won four EIHL championships over six seasons as a player and coach. His best year as a player came in 2007-08, when he racked up 125 points (67G, 68A) in 68 games. When his stint with Coventry ended after the 2009-10 season, he was the EIHL’s all-time leading scorer. His average points per game — 1.483 — still stands as the highest in league history.
“As well as his achievements in the game, Adam was also a leader, a friend, a funny guy, a winner, a Captain, and was always there for his friends and teammates,” said former Blaze assistant coach Luc Chabot.
Former Blaze head coach Paul Thompson said Calder’s offensive ability was boundless:
“There was more to his game than people realise. He was a very good passer and he saw the ice very well. He was cool, calm and collected and he was a clutch guy. In the last season Coventry won the league, the amount of goals he scored was unbelievable. He was a one-man wrecking machine. The game changed during his time with us but he was able to adapt. He was also a quiet man – until you owed him a tenner (a 10-pound British note)!”
Calder’s career came to an end ten games into the 2012 season after suffering a severe injury while playing with the Milton-Keyes Lightning of the English Premier Ice Hockey League.
Adam’s battle with cancer became public in 2016, when the Blaze announced the #SUPPORT25Game and an online fundraiser so he could have another round of treatments, medication, and travel which are not covered by Britain’s National Health Service. That fundraiser’s goal was to raise roughly $13-thousand US dollars, but ended up raising almost $38-thousand dollars.
One month later, Calder returned to South Carolina to help usher in the 25th season of Stingrays hockey. The organization also held an alumni game and fundraiser to help in the fight.
In the minutes after his passing, those who were lucky enough to have Adam as part of their organization offered remembrances.
“The Stingrays organization is so sad to hear this news and our thoughts and prayers go out to Calds and his family during this difficult time. Adam was a fighter and fought until the end. He loved the Stingrays and checked in often to see how we were doing. Whenever we spoke, he wanted to talk about the Rays and not about himself. We will miss you my friend.” – Rob Concannon, Stingrays President and former teammate of Calder’s
Rest easy, Calds! https://t.co/Vjc0jBvlqy
— Wichita Thunder (@Wichita_Thunder) July 6, 2018
Thank you Adam. We love you. Rest in peace 🐲🏒 pic.twitter.com/UXDK51uSHw
— Coventry Blaze (@covblazehockey) July 6, 2018
Rest well, Calds.