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Predators to honour memory of former VIJHL player killed in U.S.

Dayton Clarke, 21, died after he was hit by a delivery truck while walking home in Eugene, Oregon, on May 13 following his freshman season with the University of Oregon Ducks.

Norm Kelly, co-owner of the Saanich Predators (formerly Braves) of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, remembers Dayton Clarke as a bright young man who loved life and hockey.

“During the time Dayton played for the Saanich Braves, I got to know him very well. He was a hard-working, gifted, talented athlete who was loved by all his teammates and staff,” recalled Kelly.

Clarke, a six-foot-three forward, played for the Saanich club from 2017 to 2021 in the VIJHL before going on to play for University of Oregon Ducks. Clarke, 21, died after he was hit by a delivery truck while walking home in Eugene, Oregon, on May 13 following his freshman season with the Ducks.

The Predators (16-9-1) will honour Clarke Friday night at Pearkes Arena ahead of their VIJHL game against the Westshore Wolves (15-11-3). The Dayton family, dad Wayne, mom Sylvia and sibling Jordyn Clarke, will be on hand for the tribute ceremony on the ice at the beginning of the game.

Clay Cochrane, who has been online broadcaster for the team the last eight seasons and was a friend of Dayton’s, will speak on behalf of the club and present a memorial to the family. Sam Waterfield, who coached Dayton Clarke for much of his career with the Braves/Predators, will also speak.

A tribute banner will be hung, followed by a moment of silence.

“Dayton was never without a kind word or a smile on his face. There was always a joke or a light word to ease the hurt,” recalled Kelly.

“I was shocked and saddened when I heard the news. It still hurts a lot. I cannot imagine what his family is dealing with. The world has lost a wonderful young man.”

The University of Oregon, on Instagram in May, posted that Clarke “was energetic and full of joy. He was a very good hockey player and a great teammate.”

Clarke also played in the Superior International Junior Hockey League for the Elliot Lake Red Wings and later the Kam River Fighting Walleye, located in Oliver Paipoonge, Ont., and helped lead the Walleye into the league final in 2022.

It is Dayton Clarke’s ­passion for the game that will be ­celebrated Friday night.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com