PROVO Coaches, fans and players stood still with bowed head for their "teammate and friend" during a long moment of silence at the Seven Peaks Ice Arena Friday night.
The Utah Valley State College hockey team and coaching staff wore patches with Kenneth G. Dolezsar's initials in his memory after the 50-year-old assistant coach was gunned downed by an as-yet unknown assailant Thursday in the parking lot of a Village Inn restaurant in Sandy.
"He lived for game night, that's why we're playing," said DJ Stader, a volunteer assistant coach, during an emotional news conference before the game.
Dolezsar founded the UVSC Hockey Club and backed his commitment up with "a blank checkbook," according to several sources.
In one of his very first meetings with coach Beaudry, Dolezsar discussed how to recruit guys for the team, and he wrote out a $15,000 check on the spot and and asked if that would be enough for a recruiting trip to Canada, said Lisa Beaudry, coach Beaudry's wife.
That was merely the beginning of Dolezsar's strong and fanatical support toward his hockey child.
But it wasn't the big money, business sponsorships or generous support that Dolezsar brought to the ice that hockey fans mention the most: It was his commitment and authenticity.
"He was for real," said Hockey Club President Matt Garner. "When he puts his arm around you and asks how you're doing, he means it. He wanted to know how my wife and kids were the last time I saw him."
His commitment to the team was shown through hundreds of volunteered hours.
"He loved this team, and the last time I saw him the afternoon before he died he was full of excitement, talking about recruiting a bunch of Russians, he was so happy," Garner said.
Many said Dolezsar acted like a father to the Canadian players as well and called them often with real interest in their lives.
Dolezsar's 12-year-old grandson, Braxton, showed up to work Friday night: He slipped his miniature-size jersey over his brave face and got rowdy for the crowd as the team's official mascot.
"I'm here because this is where he would want me," said Braxton. "He was the best grandfather in the whole wide world, and he was the heart and soul of this team."
One of Dolezsar's only requests, for his raising stacks of money for the team, was a mascot costume for his grandson to wear and cheer on the team at games.
"He didn't ask much, but he wanted that," said Lisa Beaudry.
One might have a tough time separating Dolezsar's personal life with his business.
"Everything he did was tied to the team," said Lisa Beaudry. "If he bought a truck, he would do it was because he committed the dealership to donate to the team. If he hired a particular landscaper, it was because they donated." Moments after the silence and only seconds before referees dropped the puck to start the game, the announcer bellowed, "This one's for you, Ken Dolezsar!"
The puck fell and, on the Wolverine's first possession only seconds into the game, Chris Glen slapped it in the net for a score.
"That one was for you, Ken," shouted a group in the crowd.
Starting the third period of play, the score was UVSC 12 and University of Utah 1.
The search for the man who gunned down Dolezsar in the parking lot of a Sandy Village Inn continued Friday.
Investigators confirmed Friday through an autopsy that Dolezsar was shot multiple times just before 7 a.m. at the restaurant near 10600 South and 150 West, where he reportedly was going to meet an acquaintance for breakfast.
Detectives said they continued to have promising leads, but as of Friday afternoon no arrests had been made.
Witnesses said Dolezsar got into a confrontation with a man on the sidewalk on the east side of the restaurant. Dolezsar appeared to be backing away from the man, not wanting to get into a fight, when the other man pulled out a gun and fired at least three times, according to police.
The gunman then took off in Dolezsar's Lincoln Navigator, which was found abandoned in a nearby cemetery.
Dolezsar was the assistant hockey coach for the UVSC team and was known to make large personal contributions to support the team.
The gunman was described as a white man with a tan, possibly European-looking, between 6-foot and 6-foot-3 and about 230 pounds. He had thick black or dark brown hair pulled into a ponytail stretching five inches past his shoulders, according to witnesses. He was last seen wearing a brown suede leather jacket.
Anyone with information on the gunman can call Sandy police at 568-4636.