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Minor Hockey Pays Tribute to Cpl. Nathan Cirillo
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HAMILTON, Ont. -- A minor hockey league team in Cpl. Nathan Cirillo's hometown paid a touching tribute to the slain soldier on Sunday.

Cirillo, 24, was shot dead last week while guarding the National War Memorial in the country's capital.

The Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs held a ceremony before Sunday's game at the Gateway arena as a "show of support" for Cirillo's family, who made a brief appearance.

Cirillo's stepfather, Vic, his sister Natasha, cousin Jen, and his five-year-old son Marcus stepped out onto the ice during the ceremony -- attended by around 200 people -- and accepted bouquets of flowers.

Marcus was presented with a Bulldogs jersey.

Cirillo's cousin, Ryan Stepien, 13, plays on the team, which prompted the team's association to pull together the tribute.

"We thought it was the right thing to do," Mississauga, Ontario firefighter Chris Ogg said. He helped organize the ceremony, which featured honour guards from Hamilton police and the Hamilton Fire Department as well as members of Cirillo's regiment, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

Stepien also represented his team on the ice in a pre-game ceremonial puck-drop in front of the family.

Preparations began Friday morning. An e-mail was sent out to members and parents of the Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs and attendees were asked to wear red in support of the troops.

"This is so unbelievable that it hit so close to home," Ogg said. "When you hear a soldier killed and then you hear he's from Hamilton, and then you hear people you've known for seven years, it's their nephew -- it hit home and (we) just thought we had to do something."

Hamilton councillor Maria Pearson gave a brief speech before calling for a moment of silence: "His mother and father, they have suffered the ultimate sacrifice. Canada stood still and now we must move forward and continue to persevere."

Glenn Thompson, 49, watched the ceremony from the bleachers, a red poppy pinned to his jacket.

"It was very moving," he said.

His son Lucas is team captain and Stepien is one of the assistant captains.

He says his son understands that what happened was a "terrible act."

"I think it's the era that they're living in now, they understand that these horrible events occur unfortunately," Thompson said. "He was very saddened by it. I think he was quite moved by the ceremony today as well."

A private visitation for Cirillo was held Sunday night at the Markey-Dermody Funeral Home on King Street East in Hamilton.

The visitation will be open to the public on Monday at the same funeral home from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The funeral will be held Tuesday.


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