Hammertime: Humboldt Broncos spirit remains strong

Looking at the first Humboldt Broncos game of the season and the ceremony that came with it

Mike Rainone

Hammertime

Whether we are hockey fans or not most of us surely joined 30 plus millions of others to watch the nationally televised coverage of the Saskatchewan Junior ‘A’ Hockey League home opener of the Humboldt Broncos against the Nipiwan Hawks last Wednesday night.

The jam-packed and thrilling game also included a very solemn ceremony and celebration honouring the 16 players and team officials who were killed in the tragic bus/truck crash on April 6, 2018, as well as the 13 surviving members of the 2017-18 team.

There were certainly a great deal of cheers, tears, and heartfelt displays of emotion during last week’s home opener in Humboldt arena, with the host Broncos dropping a thrilling and hard-fought 2-1 decision to the defending champion Hawks. The game was followed by a wonderful dedication memorial that surely touched the hearts of everyone at the rink as well as a massive TV audience. Eight of the injured players from the horrific crash were also on hand for the opening face-off and after the game ceremony, including Brayden Camrud and Derek Patter, who were the only players involved in the accident who were able to return to play on this season’s current Humboldt Bronco’s team.

During the closing ceremony following the game, countless tributes were offered in memory and honour of the 16 fallen Humboldt players and team officials, for the 13 survivors, and to the parents and family members who have had to face the tragic loss and trauma during the ordeal. Within hours of hearing of the tragic accident the small and closely knit City of Humboldt, Sask. responded and came together in so many ways to reach out, to help out, and to mourn the sudden and devastating passing of the players, coach, statistician, bus driver, and medical personnel from their favourite and long-standing Junior ‘A’ hockey team. That wonderful and ongoing care and kindness expressed by the City of Humboldt and surrounding communities was also quickly followed by an overwhelming display of sympathy, support, and generosity from countless families, individuals, organizations, hockey fans, sports teams, and players from the Province of Saskatchewan, our Canadian Nation, the United States, and throughout the world.

In the aftermath of the accident a Go-Fund-Me page was started to support the team, which raised an amazing kind and generous total of over $15 million, which long into the future will be used to assist with the expenses of those families who lost their loved ones, as well as to cover the ongoing medical expenses and treatment of the surviving injured players. During the memorial ceremony following the hockey game a video presentation was held as 29 yellow and green flags with the names of the 16 dead and 13 injured Humboldt Bronco players and team officials involved in the April 6, 2018 bus/truck crash were unveiled by members of the Humboldt RCMP, fire department, and ambulance crews who played such a vital role in the initial and ongoing response to the accident.

The banners will later be raised up to the rafters of the popular Humboldt arena in memory and honour of the 2017-18 team, who will also be forever remembered by the countless displays, photos, and memories that are located throughout the rink. The Canadian Junior Hockey League in conjunction with the Saskatchewan Junior ‘A’ Hockey League will also display the ‘We Play For Them’ banners in 133 rinks during their 2018-19 seasons in tribute to the 2017-18 Humboldt Broncos. The closing remarks from former Humboldt Bronco team president Kevin Garinger very solemnly, but positively said it best in the aftermath of this terrible tragedy and the rebuilding of the team for the new season. ‘We will forever cherish their memories and honour their legacy, and then we will all continue to move forward with them, because of them.’ The very special and memorable hockey evening closed with everyone joining in on a tearful but glorious rendition of Amazing Grace.

There is no doubt that during that terrible tragedy in Saskatchewan in April so many families, individuals, businesses, organizations, and teams in our province and right here at home also came forth just like they always do to support the Humboldt Broncos’ ‘Go-Fund-Me’ cause, as well as placing their hockey sticks outside their doors in tribute and honour of those fallen and injured hockey players and officials. We are so blessed that we have all been given the most wonderful opportunity of celebrating and sharing the joy and successes of family, friends, and community, as well as also being able to reach out and extend the special gift of care, kindness, compassion, support, and sympathy to special causes and to those who are in need.

Thank you so much for the support. Let’s look forward to a ‘balmy fall’, and then go ahead and have a great week, all of you.

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