In order to celebrate the Edmonton Oilers’ 40-year anniversary, we’ll be re-living 40 amazing moments from Oilers history. Today, in order to honour the life of Colby Cave after his tragic passing, we have his beautiful goal against the Penguins.
Colby Cave will be remembered for his character, his positive attitude, and his relentless desire to achieve his dream of being an NHL player.
In the hours after his tragic passing on Friday morning, dozens of former teammates and coaches have paid their respect to his memory with stories about how much of a blessing he was to have in their lives. The prevailing theme from each and every message was how Colby was such a pleasure to be around.
Passed over in the WHL’s bantam draft, Cave cracked the Swift Current Broncos’ roster in 2011-12 after spending two seasons playing Midget AAA in Saskatchewan. A couple of years later, Cave was named captain of the Broncos. Again, he was passed over in a draft, this time the NHL draft, but Cave kept grinding along, working to improve his game and earn his chance.
His hard work paid off in April of 2015. Cave’s strong season with the Broncos earned him a three-year entry-level contract with the Boston Bruins. He would spend the next two seasons with the Bruins’ AHL affiliate in Providence before finally getting his shot in 2017-18.
In 2018-19 the Bruins placed Cave on waivers where the Oilers would scoop him up. It was with the Oilers that Cave got the longest opportunity as an NHL player of his career, spending 33 games with the club to finish off the season. During that stint, Cave carved out a role on the team as a fourth-line centre who brought energy and could play effectively in the defensive zone. He also showed off some serious flashes of skill with the puck.
In the fall, Cave was sent down to the Oilers’ AHL affiliate in Bakersfield just a week into the 2019-20 season. Despite the setback, Cave never complained and reported to Bakersfield ready to work on improving his game for his next opportunity. His coach in Bakersfield, Jay Woodcroft, raved about the energy and professionalism Cave brought to the team while he was in the AHL.
“He wasn’t just showing up to the rink to put his equipment on,” Woodcroft told The Athletic. “There was a purpose behind what he was going to do on a day-by-day basis. He’s very passionate. He brought energy and enthusiasm.
“As a player in his mid-20s, there was great leadership about him. He showed some of the new professionals how to do it right. That didn’t just mean what he did on the ice surface. It also meant how he conducted himself as a professional off the ice. He’s gonna be sorely missed.”
After a month in the AHL, Cave was called back up to join the Oilers. His first game back in the lineup was on the road in Pittsburgh against the Penguins. In the second period, with the score locked at 0-0 and the Oilers getting heavily outshot, Cave made his return with a bang. He picked up the puck in the neutral zone, burned past defenceman Marcus Pettersson, dragged the puck through the crease, waited out goaltender Matt Murray, and fired the puck into the back of the net.
It was a beautiful goal, straight out of Connor McDavid’s playbook. The Oilers would go on to win the game 2-1 in overtime, a key victory as the team was proving it could beat the best of the best early in the season. But, best of all, it was awesome to see Cave score a goal like that immediately after making his return from the minors. You know everybody in the room was rooting for him.
Rest in peace, Colby. Once an Oiler, always an Oiler.