Patrick Romano, of Toms River, died following Saturday's blaze at a home on Wyoming Avenue in Niagara Falls -- about a mile from Niagara University, where Romano was a junior, university officials said.
The fire broke out at a Wyoming Avenue home around 5 a.m. Saturday, and took approximately two hours to control. The cause was under investigation.
Romano attended Toms River High School East, where he was a member of the varsity hockey team.
He joined Niagara University's Purple Eagles club his freshman year, and has been on the team ever since, while enrolled in the sports and recreation management program.
Niagara University President James J. Maher said Romano was integral in the production and streaming of athletic events with ESPN.
“This news is devastating to our university community, and the pain that we are feeling, the emptiness that Patrick’s passing leaves for all of us is far-reaching,” Maher said. “Together, we are heartbroken by this tragic loss of life.”
Romano was described by club General Manager and Head Coach Tom Mooradian as the "heartbeat" of the Niagara University ACHA Men’s Division 1 Ice Hockey Program, he said in a statement to News 4 in Niagara Falls.
“The overall value he carried into our locker room and the Niagara University community as a whole is simply immeasurable," the statement reads.
"There was never an instance where he wasn’t smiling, picking others up, and providing an outlet for those suffering through some of life’s most difficult facets."
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