A graduate of Toms River High School East died in an off-campus house fire in Niagara Falls early Saturday morning.

As firefighters arrived around 5 a.m., flames were coming out of the roof of the house on Wyoming Avenue where Niagara University junior Patrick Romano lived, the Niagara Falls Fire Department told WIVB TV. The heat and intense fire kept them from entering the house, the department said.

Friends left flowers and a case of Molson beer outside the house to remember Romano who was in the sport management program and a member of the school's ACHA hockey team.

Coach Tom Mooradian told WKBW TV that Romano was "literally the happiest human being I've ever met in my entire life," calling him "the heartbeat of the team."

"We lost a player but we also lost the biggest character in our locker room," Mooradian told WKBW TV.

House in Niagara Falls after a house fire claimed the life of Toms Rivers' Patrick Romano
House in Niagara Falls after a house fire claimed the life of Toms Rivers' Patrick Romano (WIBV TV)

"This news is devastating to our entire university community, and words cannot express the pain that we are feeling, or the emptiness that Patrick’s passing leaves for our students, faculty, staff and administration. Together we are deeply saddened by this tragedy," college president Rev. James J. Maher said in a written statement.

"He was a gifted student who served as role model and mentor for his friends and the members of the club hockey team, and he was also instrumental in the production and streaming of NU’s athletic events with ESPN," Maher added.

A Palm Sunday service at Niagara University included a prayer for Romano.

Romano's parents were identified as Pat and Charlene.

"Toms River Regional Schools is extremely saddened to learn of the untimely passing of Patrick Romano, who graduated High School East in 2016. Our sincerest condolences go out to his family and friends," Toms River school district spokesman Michael Kenny said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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