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Devils hockey honoring memory of teammate

Bernard “Tanner” Kahlau

In January, the Fredonia Blue Devils men’s hockey team experienced a terrible tragedy when Bernard “Tanner” Kahlau died in a skiing accident in the Adirondacks. Kahlau, 22, veered off the trail he was skiing on and trees nearby. Kahlau’s death deeply impacted the entire team.

“It was such a tragedy, and it was really tough on players, coaches, and people in our department and people on our campus, and obviously all his friends and family,” said Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith.

As a result of Kahlau’s death, Meredith began thinking of ideas into how Kahlau could be properly honored and remembered by his teammates, for the upcoming 2021-22 season and beyond. Eventually, Meredith landed on an idea he ran by the team.

“Tanner was a special person, and he was such a big part of our program,” he said. “I was thinking of different ways we could recognize that. He was going to be a senior and he would have been a captain anyway, so I presented the idea of the team.”

Predictably, the team was fully on board with it and will be honored for the 2021-22 season by serving as the captain, while two other players will be named assistant captains. Honoring Kahlau in some capacity was important for Meredith and the rest of the Blue Devils.

The process of honoring Kahlau doesn’t end at naming him captain. Kahlau was awarded his degree from SUNY Fredonia posthumously, and Fredonia’s Tanner Kahlau Memorial Game will be held on Saturday, Nov. 6 against Trinidine. A special set of 35 jerseys are on sale, featuring Kahlau’s No. 9 and a “C” on the front. Meredith said that seeing the whole team wearing Kahlau’s jersey will be a powerful moment.

“It is a tough thing to really properly put it into words at times,” Meredith said. “I think that there’s going to be times that it’s going to hit us harder next year than it has in a while. I think that certainly that weekend where we play Tanner’s game on Saturday is going to be a real emotional day. It’s going to be really something when our whole hockey team takes the ice and they’re all wearing Tanner’s number nine.”

Proceeds from the jerseys will go toward an endowment fund set up by the Kahlau family, where the money will be used to benefit the men’s hockey program. On top of all that, SUNY Fredonia Athletic Director Jerry Fisk said that more things will be in place in Kahlau’s memory.

“More is coming,” Fisk said. “We didn’t get to do as much this spring as we’d have liked to because of COVID, so there will be other pieces in the fall from the Athletic and Business Departments.”

Donations to the Tanner Kahlau Memorial Fund can be made at https://give-to-fredonia.formstack.com/forms/affinity?Please–direct–my–donation–to=Tanner%20Kahlau%20Memorial%20Fund, while you can purchase a jersey at https://secure.touchnet.com/C21465–ustores/web/store–main.jsp?STOREID=185&SINGLESTORE=true

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