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Remembering Tony Voce, an adored ‘Philadelphia hockey specimen'

Voce was from Philadelphia and played parts of three seasons for the Flyers' AHL affiliate Phantoms

Tony Voce
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Tony Voce, a fun-loving Philadelphia native who won a championship with his hometown Phantoms, died suddenly Monday. He was 43 years old.

The cause of death has not been released to the public.

Playing parts of three seasons for the Flyers' AHL affiliate when it was located in Philadelphia, Voce scored 58 goals and collected 57 assists over 181 games. The left winger was the third-leading goal scorer on the 2004-05 Phantoms team that went on to win the Calder Cup.

"He was Philly through and through," Sal Raffa, a former athletic trainer for the Flyers and Phantoms, said to NBC Sports Philadelphia. "From his passion for Philadelphia sports to his personality, which was much bigger than he was. His hands and skill with the hockey puck made him who he was on the ice.

"He had the typical Philadelphia accent, which always made me smile whenever I saw him or he would call to say hello."

Voce was a father of three daughters: Mia, Raya and Gianna.

"Tony was a great guy, just an easygoing guy, always in a good mood, smiling, having fun," Riley Cote, a former Flyers and Phantoms forward, said to NBC Sports Philadelphia. "He was just a good guy to be around. That's what I remember, Tony smiling and kind of being goofy and having fun, keeping it loose."

Cote had just seen his old teammate two weeks ago at the Flyers Alumni Golf Invitational.

"He showed up late, he was on a cart trying to find his foursome," Cote said. "It was like classic Tony, just making light of it, having fun, 'I don't know where the hell my foursome is.' Just not sweating it."

A Boston College athletics Hall of Famer, Voce won a national championship with the Eagles in 2001. He finished his four-year collegiate career with 167 points (90 goals, 77 assists) in 159 games and was a Hobey Baker finalist as a senior.

"The more I knew Tony and moved along in the hockey world, I realized — obviously he was a great player, I played with him, we were on the Calder Cup team together — but then you hear it from other people in the area, talking about Tony Voce, this Philadelphia hockey specimen back in the day," Cote said. "He was looked upon.

"I was probably envious to some degree with how he was able to just keep everything light. Obviously there's always pressure, you're always putting pressure on yourself, but he never really seemed to carry it that way. He was a lighthearted guy."

After suiting up for the Phantoms and the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins, Voce played in Finland, Germany and Austria before wrapping up his career in 2009-10 with an ECHL season.

The Flyers released the following statement Monday:

"It is with deep sadness that we have learned of the sudden passing of Tony Voce. Tony was a member of the Flyers organization for three seasons, one of which included a Calder Cup championship with the Philadelphia Phantoms and their magical run to the title in 2005. However, Tony was more than just a member of our organization, he was a born and raised native of Philadelphia. He learned to play the game he loved in our city and built a successful collegiate career that saw him win a national championship and become a First Team All-American with Boston College before signing with his hometown Flyers. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this incredibly difficult time."

Voce coached the youth level at Hollydell Ice Arena in Sewell, New Jersey and helped with the Flyers Warriors, a team dedicated to U.S. Military Veterans with disabilities and a passion to play the sport.

"He was obviously a great player and to come from the city, people recognize him as such," Cote said. "Then to go on through his pro career, retire and stay here and still being interfaced in the hockey community. From what I understand, coaching out of Hollydell, he was great with the kids, the people loved him. You don't hear anything bad about Tony."

He left an impact on Philadelphia and the local hockey community.

"He was a very caring and helpful person who I trusted and referred many youth hockey athletes to, even my nephew," Raffa said. "Once someone met Tony, they became instant lifelong friends. His personality was bigger than life and he had an incredible way of making you feel very important and special."

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