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HomeIce HockeyBitten brothers hold cousin’s legacy alive | TheAHL.com

Bitten brothers hold cousin’s legacy alive | TheAHL.com

Patrick Williams, TheAHL.com Options Author

“Preserve his legacy alive.”

Who was Martin Piché?

Properly, he was an engineering pupil in Montreal. Good. Passionate. Motivated. He additionally was the cousin of Springfield Thunderbirds forwards Will and Sam Bitten.

However at 25 years outdated, Piché was identified with most cancers. Mind most cancers. He handed away on Jan. 8, 2021, at age 31.

The illness denied him lots in life, however he had hockey, and he had his cousins. Because the Bittens made their manner by means of the Ontario Hockey League and on to professional hockey, they’d certainly one of their most devoted followers in Piché.

So contemplate their cousin’s legacy to be very a lot alive, due to Will, Sam and Bitsy’s Military.

And a part of holding that legacy alive means elevating cash for this combat in opposition to mind most cancers.

The Bittens, together with the remainder of their Thunderbirds teammates, will don particular warm-up jerseys when the staff hosts its annual Hockey Fights Most cancers night time this Saturday in opposition to Utica. Becoming a member of them at MassMutual Middle shall be greater than 20 members of their rapid and prolonged household.

“It’s a particular night time for everybody,” Will stated. “We’re actually trying ahead to it. It ought to be an amazing night time for everybody, my teammates, the followers.”

Added Sam, “Everybody’s been affected by most cancers, so to have this night time, and particularly devoted to Bitsy’s Military, it’s very particular.”

Final season Will and the Thunderbirds wore lavender warm-up jerseys that they later auctioned off to boost cash for charity. The membership additionally labored with Will to design a Bitsy’s Military emblem and a line of associated merchandise. The T-Birds Charitable Basis then used cash raised from these merchandise gross sales to make a donation to the Mind Tumour Basis of Canada.

The Bitten contingent in Springfield doubled when the Thunderbirds introduced 23-year-old Sam aboard on an AHL deal this previous summer season.

Hockey has created a whole lot of household reminiscences. Now 25, Will thinks again to the day in Buffalo in 2016 when he was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens. The Bittens and Pichés had made the journey. An enormous cheer went up when that choose went up on the draft board.

“It was so loud,” Will remembers. “I keep in mind everybody trying and even the Montreal [draft] desk gazing us.”

Martin Piché was within the crowd as properly.

“Having him there and his household, that’s fairly particular,” Will remembers. “It felt prefer it was meant to be.”

Seeing him go to the storied Canadiens was a “dream come true” for each the households. And for Will, it meant constructing a good deeper bond along with his cousin. The Bittens grew up within the Ottawa space. However after being drafted, Will spent two summers dwelling with the Piché household whereas he educated within the Montreal space. Whether or not it was a time on the ice, a day spent on the golf course, or a leisurely night meal collectively, Will grew nearer with Martin, who was almost a decade older than him.

Sam Bitten (Picture: Lucas Armstrong)

Bitsy’s Military was launched in 2020, when Sam was with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting and Will was taking part in with the Iowa Wild. Now in his third season in Springfield, Will shortly turned a key a part of the group and has labored with the Thunderbirds’ entrance workplace on a number of most cancers charity initiatives. These efforts helped to make him the staff’s winner of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the 12 months award for his area people work final season.

“They’ve been top-notch,” Will stated of the Thunderbirds group. “With out them, this night time would by no means occur. We actually recognize it. I can’t thank them sufficient to assist with this trigger.”

Piché left a legacy along with his two cousins hockey-wise as properly. Professional athletes are human. There are these summer season days the place the aches and pains make offseason coaching tough. However the health club or the rink nonetheless beckon. Till the Bittens suppose again and have a look at Piché for instance. Throughout these summer season days in Montreal, Will remembers seeing Piché swim laps every morning. Even in his ultimate 12 months of life, as he started to lose his eyesight and stability, Piché made staying match a purpose as a lot as doable.

“I exploit that lots as gas and motivation,” Sam defined. “I give it some thought on daily basis. He fought his battle for seven years. The final 12 months or so was actually robust on Martin. It lit a hearth in my stomach.

“Holy smokes. If he’s ready to try this, we’re like, ‘Let’s go. That is nothing [like] what he was going by means of.’”

Piché’s classes prolonged past hockey as properly. On that day in 2014 when Piché’s analysis got here, Will was nonetheless a 15-year-old making ready to move off to play for the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers. Sam was solely 13. They needed to course of this information by some means. And people classes didn’t turn into any simpler as time handed, both.

Sam remembers visiting Piché close to the top and was struck by his cousin’s optimistic outlook. Talking had turn into tough for Piché by then, however he made it some extent to speak hockey with the brothers. He pushed them to pursue their professional hockey ambitions.

“Even when he might barely converse,” Sam stated, “he was telling us to go for our dream. He was caught in his mattress. That’s a sight I all the time have in my reminiscence, seeing him in his mattress. I can’t think about going by means of that.

“What a warrior he was. We’re not going to give up after that.”



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