The No. 18 took one final spin around the Tullio Arena ice. Then before the Erie Otters’ home opener against Saginaw on Saturday, No. 18 ascended to the rafters.
“No one will ever wear No. 18 ever again,” Sherry Bassin, Otters managing partner and general manager, said during a pregame ceremony honoring the late Vince Scott, an Otter from 2003-07 who died in an automobile accident in April. Scott joined the No. 16 of Brad Boyes, the club’s revered former captain.
But first, Otters winger Brett Appio skated onto the ice for pregame warm-ups wearing a No. 18 sweater.
Appio wore that number last season after joining the Otters in January. But on this night, it was merely a loaner. During the emotional ceremony, he skated to the east end of the rink to present the sweater to Scott’s parents, Bob and Sue. Then Bob Scott handed Appio his new No. 8 sweater.
“This is a special night to honor a special memory. He was a special, special kid,” said Bassin, as he fought back tears. “We lost a special person. But his memory will never ever be lost here.”
Several members of Scott’s immediate and billet families stepped onto the ice before a moment of silence was observed. Then they glanced towards the center-ice scoreboard for a video salute featuring photos of Scott’s childhood and his days with the Otters. He totaled 29 goals and 71 points in 202 career games.
Moments later, the rest of the Otters joined Appio in exchanging hugs and handshakes with Scott’s family and friends. Then club officials presented Scott’s family with a poster and plaque bearing, among other things, Scott’s name and number. Bob Scott’s poignant parting words capped the ceremony.
He spoke about his son’s love for the Otters. “I know the day he became assistant captain was one of the happiest days of his life,” Bob Scott said. “Vinny loved playing for the Otters and skating on this ice.”
The elder Scott also addressed his son’s love for Erie and the team’s fans.
“The people of Erie really made Vinny feel welcome,” Bob Scott said. “He really loved you guys.”
The Otters and their fans loved him, too. “His memory will never ever end,” Bassin said.
- Victor Fernandes