Humboldt Broncos returning player Brayden Camrud and head coach Nathan Oystrick are seen during a team practice Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

All of Canada cheering for Humboldt Broncos as they return to the ice: Trudeau

It’s been five months since team’s bus and tractor-trailer crashed, killing 16 and injuring 13 others

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says all of Canada will be cheering for the Humboldt Broncos tonight when the Saskatchewan junior hockey team plays their first game since a fatal bus crash.

Speaking at a Liberal caucus meeting in Saskatoon, Trudeau said the community of Humboldt suffered unimaginable shock, grief and trauma in April when the team’s bus and a tractor-trailer collided at a rural intersection.

Sixteen people, including 10 players, were killed and 13 players were injured.

“Canadians everywhere were heartbroken and we mourned alongside the community,” he told his caucus on Wednesday. “But in the wake of this tragedy, Humboldt has shown incredible resilience and strength.

“Canadians were quick to share their love, support, generosity and kindness in a moment when it was so desperately needed. So to the people of Humboldt, know that we are with you. Know that we will continue to support you as you heal.”

The Broncos are to play their home opener tonight against the Nipawin Hawks — the same team the Broncos were supposed to face the night of the crash.

READ MORE: Humboldt Broncos bus crash survivor still has a long recovery ahead

Trudeau said he’s glad that the Broncos will be back on the ice tonight and he wished them the very best.

“You have us and 37 million fans cheering you on,” he said to applause.

Jamie Brockman, president of the Humboldt Broncos, said the team is grateful for all the support it has received from across Canada and the world. Tonight’s game and tribute to last year’s team is a turning point for many, he said Wednesday.

“We’re going to find out what our new normal is after today,” Brockman said. “Hockey is back in Humboldt. We are strong and we are going to survive and we are going to move forward.”

The main entrance to the Elgar Petersen Arena was lined with pictures of all 16 people who died in the crash.

Sixteen hockey sticks adorned with green and yellow ribbons were lined up outside. Nearby a green bench was emblazoned with the words ”Always in our hearts. 29 on the fateful ride, 16 souls died.”

The Broncos lost their coach, Darcy Haugan, in the crash. Brayden Camrud and Derek Patter are the only two survivors that are back playing with the junior A team this season.

“It’s a great day to be a Bronco, gentlemen” — something Haugan often told his players — is now enscribed outside the team’s dressing room.

The team’s new coach, Nathan Oystrick, said he’s focusing on his players and has spoken with every member at some point to let them know he is there for them.

“I’m an open guy,” he said in an interview Tuesday. ”If there is something that is bothering them, they can come and talk to me whenever they want.”

Oystrick said he understands that hockey players don’t always like talking to their coach.

That is why he has hired longtime friend and former teammate Mark Popovic as the team’s director of personal development and leadership. Popovic has talked to FBI agents about how to deal with trauma, Oystrick added.

Players can also lean on Pastor Sean Brandow, the team chaplain, who is returning for another season. Brandow arrived at the crash site shortly after it happened and spoke at a vigil two days later. He also spoke at the funerals of some of the players.

“We want to just love these guys and care for them and be there to support them,” he said.

Ryan McKenna, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Hospital apologizes for veteran’s five-day hallway stay

Clinical director of VGH says case of retired 77-year-old veteran ‘definitely excessive’

Alt Pride calls for zero police presence at Victoria Pride Parade

Says VPS can’t have good relationships with vulnerable communities if police participate

Divers explore the deeps of Sproat Lake using vintage equipment

Heritage Hard Hat Divers will have a maritime heritage exhibit in Port Alberni

Legend of Victoria dog ‘Cody’ lives on with successful pet drive

Charmaine’s furniture store collecting donations for Victoria Pet Food Bank

Canada’s archive buys rare book that hints at Nazi plans for North America

The 1944 book may have served as a blueprint for a Nazi purge

Ex-Mountie involved in Taser death at Vancouver airport sues government

Kwesi Millington claims he acted in accordance with RCMP training

Forestry and legumes shippers say railways prioritized other commodities

Companies say they lost millions on Port of Vancouver shipments

LETTER: Seniors home care, day programs expanding, Adrian Dix says

B.C. health minister responds to latest Seniors Advocate report

B.C. woman wins Instagram celebrity’s boob job contest

‘Kirill was here’ held a contest for women to win a boob job and a trip to Miami

Man pulls over to help injured owl, gets hit by SUV

Chase RCMP say owl flew away while they were on scene

New food guide addresses ‘elephant’ in the room – alcohol

Experts welcomed the tougher stance on an issue they say demands a co-ordinated strategy

Most Read