Edmonton Oilers superfan Ben Stelter passed away Tuesday after a bout with cancer, his family announced on Twitter.
He was just six years old.
“The world lost the most special boy and an absolute hero last night,” Ben’s father, Mike Stelter, wrote. “Ben, you were the best son we could ever hope for and you were my best bud ever. Your sisters were so lucky to have you as such a sweet brother. You fought so long and hard and beat so many odds.
“You truly changed the world and did so much good in your short time here. Mom and I are so proud of you. You had a bigger heart than anyone we’ve ever met. Our hearts are left with a Ben sized hole in them and life will never be the same without you. We are absolutely crushed.”
Stelter battled glioblastoma — a form of brain cancer — for more than a year, having been diagnosed two months before his fifth birthday. His courageous fight involved numerous surgeries, radiation treatments and rounds of chemotherapy.
On March 24, Stelter joined the Oilers for their pregame skate and later joined them in the locker room for a victory celebration, following Edmonton’s win over San Jose. He was awarded a game MVP helmet.
At one point, Edmonton won 10 consecutive games with Stelter in attendance.
“We are mourning the passing of our dear friend, number one Oilers fan, good luck charm and inspiration, Ben Stelter,” the Oilers wrote on Twitter. “Although small in stature, Ben’s impact on our team and community were massive.”
Stetler became famous for telling the team to “Play ‘La Bamba,’ baby,” the 1950s Ritchie Valens hit, after wins on social media. The song was a favorite of the Oilers longtime locker room attendant Joey Moss, who died in October of 2020.
The hockey community joined the Oilers in mourning Stelter, with a number of teams voicing their condolences on Twitter.
“The National Hockey League family is deeply saddened by the passing of Ben Stelter, a truly special young man whose adoration for the Edmonton Oilers was matched by their love for him,” the NHL wrote in a statement. “Ben’s courageous fight with brain cancer and his joy when attending Oilers games touched and inspired so many. We send our heartfelt condolences to the Stelter family.”