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Florida Panthers Commemorate UF Student Following Death

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Chance's family and friends were shown cheering on the Panthers on the scoreboard with the words "Celebrating the Life of Chance Wolf."
Chance Wolf’s family and friends are shown cheering on the Panthers scoreboard with the words “Celebrating the Life of Chance Wolf.” The University of Florida student died Jan. 31. (Photo courtesy of Holly Berman)

Red, white and blue jerseys filled the dimly lit hockey arena.

And during the third period of the Florida Panthers’ home game Thursday, the name Chance Wolf shone brightly on the scoreboard above the frozen rink in the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida.

Wolf, a 20-year-old University of Florida student who died Jan. 31, played hockey since he was young. He wore No. 81 while playing for Cypress Bay High School and No. 10 while on UF ‘s club team.

To celebrate Wolf’s life and love for the game, friends and family attended the Panthers game against the Detroit Red Wings, following the funeral service that took place earlier that afternoon.

Wolf’s parents and two Zeta Beta Tau fraternity members, Daniel Zemach and Michael Herman, worked with the Panthers organization to create a link for group ticket sales, blocked sections and discounted prices for those who knew Wolf and wanted to attend. Lauren Simone, executive director of the Florida Panthers Foundation, said proceeds from the ticket sales will go to a charity to be chosen by the family.

The words “Celebrating the Life of Chance Wolf” and a live shot of his loved ones appeared on the large screens above the rink during the third period.

Simone said this is not something the team usually does during games.

“We just got such a strong response by those who knew and loved him,” she said. “The Panthers really wanted to help honor him, especially because he was a part of the hockey community.”

Some said they played for him that night — winning 6-3. 

In honor of the "Rat Trick" tradition, where Panthers fans throw toy rats into the rink after winning games, Chance Wolf was honored with his name and high school jersey number 81 were written on a toy rat in his honor.
In honor of the “Rat Trick” tradition, where Panthers fans throw toy rats into the rink after winning games, Wolf was remembered with his name and high school jersey number (81) written on the toys. (Photo courtesy Michael Heda)

Jaromir Jagr, a Panthers player and the No. 4 point leader in the NHL, recorded his 1,100th career assist that night along with a goal. Wolf’s Facebook cover photo features Jagr.

Wolf’s teammates recently celebrated his first goal on the UF team: On Jan. 23, Wolf scored against the University of Miami, and the Gators came out on top with a 4-1 victory.

“The passing of forward Chance Wolf sent shock waves through the team as they lost a family member who brought the heart, passion and grit to the game that no one else could,” the UF hockey team wrote on its Facebook page. “Anyone who knows hockey understands the strength and love that the players have for one another.”

The team will now wear stickers on their helmets in memory of Wolf and “will play the remaining season for their lost brother.”

Wolf is also being remembered outside Florida’s hockey community. On Friday, the University of Georgia competed in its first match in the Southeastern Conference hockey playoffs against Auburn University. The Georgia players wore a patch bearing the Gator logo alongside the number 10 to show support for the UF hockey team and others grieving Wolf’s passing.

Chance is survived by his parents, Rodney and Gina Wolf, as well as his sister, Kaley, and brother, Trace.

Earlier this month, Trace wore his brother’s high school hockey jersey in Cypress Bay High School’s season-ending game. That night, with packed stands, those watching and playing shared a moment of silence in honor of Chance Wolf and his family.

Instead of sending flowers, the Wolf family is requesting donations to UF’s Department of Telecommunication, where Wolf was a student.

A memorial service for Wolf will take place Feb. 18 at 1:30 p.m. at the Harn Museum of Art on the University of Florida campus.

About Kristina McDonald

Kristina is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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