A bus filled with an exuberant, not to mention talented, hockey team of 16 to 21 year old young men was in a terrible accident on route to what was meant to be an exciting and jubilant playoff hockey game.
Just shy of their destination, on a crossroads not too far from my home farm, fate intervened and 15 lives were suddenly and tragically lost forever. The 14 surviving boys were each rocked with significant and critical injuries.
As the news spread, the collective hearts of Saskatchewan broke as though they were one.
For the past 24 hours, I, and everyone I know, have been unable to think of anything else. Whether or not we had a personal connection to those on that bus, it and it’s precious cargo have not strayed from our thoughts.
Saskatchewan may be large geographically, but our population is not. We are one big small town at heart. A neighbor’s loss is our loss. When a neighbour greives, we greive. But this loss is more. This loss is deeper. This loss has rocked each of us to our core.
You see, those boys were so much more than hockey players. They were heroes.
As a proud hockey mom, I have spent countless hours watching my son’s passion and dedication to the sport grow. I’ve watched him spend hours on end perfecting his shot in the basement net, and drove miles and miles to cheer him on at games. I have watched him examine every move that his favourite junior hockey player makes, and then emulate those same moves on repeat, until he has them perfected. Those junior hockey player heroes, were some of those lost yesterday.
As that bus pulled out of Humboldt for the final time yesterday, in Saskatchewan there was not a minor hockey player that hasn’t dreamt of being on that bus. These young men and their dedicated coaches were living the lives that my son and his own teammates dream of every single night. They were hockey heroes.
Those who’s lives were lost were in the prime of their lives. From the 20 year old team captain, Logan Schatz, to the 16 year old rookie, Adam Herold, who was called up to play in this important game, these young men were examples of great leadership in their community. To learn more about each of them, see more here.
Anyone who has had the fortune of being a part of a hockey team, either as a player, parent or coach, knows that your team becomes your family. Your teammates are your siblings, their parents your defacto parents. This knowledge only makes the heartbreak that much deeper for those who survived. They and every family involved with the Humboldt Broncos all lost so, so much. Too much.
As our tears fall, and our province and our entire country pull together in this time of great sadness, I keep a beautiful picture in my mind. I have a picture of those boys on the most perfect sheet of ice, skates laced, taking shots with legend Gordie Howe, under the watchful eye of their caring coaches. I can almost hear the tinkle of laughter floating across the ice….
May your shots be bar down forever.