EDMONTON, AB - To the teammates lucky enough to share ice and a dressing room with Colby Cave, the incredible character and motivations of the late forward never wavered.
Cave earned life in professional hockey with the Bruins and Oilers organizations the hard way as an undrafted free agent from North Battleford, SK who never sat on an opportunity to better himself as a player before his tragic passing last month left the extended hockey world speechless.
Above all, in the intimate moments he shared alongside his Oilers and Bakersfield Condors counterparts between the travel, practices and games, he was an exceptional teammate.
"I think everybody realized that when he smiled, he brightened up the whole room," Condors goaltender Stuart Skinner said from Red Deer via conference call on Wednesday. "Just his positive energy. He's just one of those guys that was always going to be by your side supporting you, no matter where we were as a team or where you were individually. I think he was there to pat you on the back and keep you going.
"He was one of the best in the business and I'm very lucky to say he was my friend."
Video: RAW | Benson & Skinner
You can learn plenty about a player from sharing a dressing room, but you can discover a lot more about the person sharing a stall - a process Tyler Benson experienced in Bakersfield during his second full season in professional hockey.
"All year I was stall mates with Colby, so I got to know him pretty well," Benson said. "He was an amazing person and an amazing teammate."
In what have become common themes - through the testimonials of coaches and teammates who built relationships with Colby - were the 25-year-old's always-present smile and commitment to improving.
"He always showed up to the rink with a big smile on his face and always had a positive attitude that was just infectious to the whole room," Benson continued. "Every time he was at the rink, he was just the hardest worker no matter where it was. Whether it was in Edmonton, where I was able to play a few games with him, or in Bakersfield - he didn't care where it was. He was always showing up to work as hard as he can.
"He was an amazing teammate and it's tough we'll never be able to see him again. He was an amazing person."