Tanner Kahlau was an all-star in every sense of the word, whether it was on the ice, in the huddle or just about any athletic endeavor he set out to accomplish.
But he was more than just a fantastic athlete.
The 2016 Crestwood graduate had pride in his community, had more friends than most high school and college students could dream of and made an impact on everyone he met.
Ice hockey was his passion and it led him to attending SUNY Fredonia where he was a member of the college’s hockey team.
On Tuesday, the Fredonia and Crestwood community received the news that Kahlau, 22, died in a skiing accident at Whiteface Mountain Ski Center, located approximately 13 miles from Lake Placid in upstate New York. Kahlau was a business management major at SUNY Fredonia.
Kahlau was skiing on the Approach Trail at Whiteface Mountain when he lost control, veered off the trail and hit trees shortly after noon, according to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. He was pronounced dead by the Essex County coroner and cause of death was determined to be skull and cervical fracture related to the crash, the Daily Enterprise reported.
In 2014, he was a 1,000-yard rusher on the football team that finished 12-1, won a District 2 title and advanced to the PIAA playoffs.
‘Lit up a room’
“You want to talk about a guy that really lit up a room,” said Crestwood football coach Ryan Arcangeli, who was an assistant coach for the Comets while Kahlau was on the team. “He had an ability to keep everybody calm and make everybody laugh. He was a jokester, that is what made him who he was. He was a tremendous leader and an even better friend.”
It was Kahlau’s overall free-spirited nature that could keep any locker room loose, Arcangeli said. No practice was too tough or an obstacle too large to overcome in his mind. He accepted the newcomer to the team just like he would a veteran, and everyone was treated on the same level regardless of their playing ability. He was a friend to all, and had no problem taking a young freshman or sophomore under his wing and would be there with encouraging words or a simple pat on the back.
“With so many guys in the room, he could go from group to group and be friends with them all,” Arcangeli said. “Not many guys can do that. He had a special bond with every single person on whatever team he was a part of. Whether it was football, hockey or lacrosse. He was just a wonderful young man.”
Kahlau also had the knack to defuse any type of situation. Take for example the time the Crestwood football team was away at overnight team camp during the summer of 2015.
As the story goes, the Crestwood football players were messing around and one of the dorm rooms had powder everywhere, Doritos spread all over the place and candy filling any spot that was available. As it turned out, the Crestwood football coaches found out, and to say they weren’t happy would be an understatement.
“The coaching staff is seeing red,” Arcangeli recalled. “We are all wondering how this happened. Here comes Tanner around the corner and fesses up to the whole situation. He just looks at us and tells us that he didn’t know what they were thinking and that he doesn’t think they think about anything they do. He just gave us that classic Kahlau smile. It was hard to stay mad at him.”
A junior forward on the SUNY Fredonia hockey team, he played in all 25 games last season where he had two goals and three assists. In his freshman season, he played in three games and scored one game-winning goal.
“We are saddened by the loss of our teammate, Tanner,” said Fredonia hockey coach Jeff Meredith, in a news release on the school’s website. “The impact he left on our program, coaches, and teammates will be forever remembered.”
Steve Bennett is a sports writer at The Citizens’ Voice. He began his career as a full-time writer in 1997. He has received a first-place award for three consecutive years from the Keystone Press Awards for his coverage of high school football. Bennett is a graduate of Bishop O’Reilly High School and received his college degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 570 821-2062 and @CVSteveBennett on Twitter.