On April 6th 2018, the hockey world was stunned by the tragedy that unfolded at the intersections of Highways 35 and 335 in Saskatchewan, Canada.
A semi-truck collided into a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos hockey team of the SJHL, who were on their way to a playoff game against the Nipawin Hawks in a must win game five, with the junior hockey team trailing 3 – 1 in their series.
Sixteen of those on board the bus tragically are no longer with us.
Tonight the Broncos are returning to the ice for a first competitive game since the tragedy, in a sold out, broadcast live home opener against the Hawks at the Elgar Petersen Arena in Humboldt, Saskatchewan.
Only two of the surviving members of the squad will be in the lineup. Brayden Camrud and Derek Patter were on the bus on April 6th, now just over five months later they’ll pull on the Broncos jersey once again in what is sure to be an emotional game not just for the two players, but their teammates, opponents, staff, their families and the community of Humboldt.
In Aprils tragedy, team captain Logan Schatz was sadly lost, and this year the team will honour him by not selecting a captain, choosing to go with alternate captains instead.
When the news reached the hockey community of the incident, support came from far and wide. Over $15 million was raised on a GoFundMe page, many people left their hockey sticks outside in a movement that was called Sticks Out For Humboldt, and NHL players visited those in the hospital
Messages of support have come from all over, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who says all of Canada will be cheering for the Broncos, Hayley Wickenheiser sending her best wishes by tweeting “Sending good luck and thinking of @HumboldtBroncos playing their season opener tonight and remembering all of those lost or injured. Sure to be an emotional night but the heart always caries the feet. I’m putting my stick back outside for this one! #Hockeyheals #humboldtbroncos”
New head coach Nathan Oystrick took to social media ahead of the game.
Following the game, there is a 35-minute ceremony planned to honour the injured and those who were killed in the crash, rather than being held before hand to let the players focus on the game without too much distraction.
Canadian sports network TSN will be at the game broadcasting the game live and without interruption from 7:30 et (12:30 UK time) on TSN, CTV Saskatchewan and also available on TSN.ca and the TSN App.
James Duthie and Bob McKenzie will be part of the broadcast, with commentary coming from Chris Cuthbert, Ray Ferraro and reports from Ryan Rishaug and Frank Seravalli.
It’s a huge feat for the Broncos to be able to assemble almost an entire new roster, and coaching staff ready for the new season, and it’s a season that will honoour last years team.