GRANDVILLE, Mich. - The hockey team from Grandville High School played Friday night despite the death of the team's captain Friday morning.
Seventeen-year-old Ryan Fischer died in his sleep. An autopsy revealed the star student-athlete had an enlarged heart.
Fischer was the hockey team's captain, a straight-A student, who had recently been accepted to an appointment to West Point.
The team decided to go ahead and play Friday evening's state high school semi-final game against Detroit Catholic Central at Compuware Arena in Plymouth.
Grandville coach Joel Braezeale said Fischer's father came into the locker room before the game and talked with the team.
"He just said you came in as a team, you started the season as a team, so many of you grew up together. The best thing to do is move forward and honor him," Braezeale said.
Grandville students made the trip to Plymouth. Many of them wore jerseys with Ryan Fischer's number 11.
Students from Catholic Central also made up posters, telling the Grandville fans were with them. Although Catholic Central's school colors are blue and white, many fans wore Grandville's maroon.
Catholic Central athletic director Aaron Babicz said the students acted on their own.
"We got a lot of text messages, messages we got on Twitter and social media about how they could help and what they could do. It was just unbelievable," Babicz said. "Unfortunately our guys are used to it a little bit, but they know how to rally around each other and wrap their arms around another community, so I'm just very proud of them."
Catholic Central's athletic program has suffered tragedy. One football player died from a heart problem. A member of the hockey team was paralyzed in an accident on the ice.
Catholic Central won the game, blanking Grandville 3-0.
Despite the loss, many Grandville fans were proud of how their team played, despite the loss of their captain.
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