The tragedy that struck the hockey world on April 6 was utterly sickening. 16 people, living the dream one way or another, instantly lost their lives.
This hits home for me. I spent parts of six years on a high school football team. Bus trips were almost better than the games itself. Going away to Thomas Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia, was hard, but I was able to discover new passions.
In my first year at TRU, I had Peter Soberlak as a Sports Physiology professor. For those of you are unaware, Soberlak was a first-round selection by the Edmonton Oilers in 1987. He also played for the Swift Current Broncos, a team who suffered a similar bus crash in 1986. Four players perished in that tragedy, but this one is much worse.
I mention this because I this was how I became a huge Junior Hockey fan. I went to nine Kamloops Blazers games that year. I figured out what I had been missing in my life. I almost wish I had supported my hometown junior hockey team back when I was younger. However, we only had a Junior-B team, a league lower than the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) and two leagues below the Western Hockey League (WHL).
In Canada, between the three leagues, most cities have a team. The smaller the community, the more it fuses people together. It’s what people do on a Friday night between September to April. It’s the equivalent to High School Football in Texas.
Humboldt has a population of just over 5,000 people. In comparison, typical arenas at this level would be between 1,000-2,000 people, and therefore, during any hockey sellout crowds, it contains between 20-40 percent of the cities’ population at one game.
The Estevan Bruins and the Nipawin Hawks started the Canalta Cup final on April 14 in Nipawin, eight days following the horrific accident.
Before game one, the teams held an emotional opening ceremony, with both teams lining up around the center ice circle with first responders and holding a moment of silence for the victims. Both teams wore green and yellow memorial ribbons with the phrase “Humboldt Strong” on their uniforms, per the Reminder.
The accident two Fridays ago serves as a strong caution that the life we have should be enjoyed every second of the day.
The overwhelming support of the incident has been incredible; an unprecedented 10 million dollars has been raised by the Go Fund Me Page. Something good will come up from this accident. Life has a way of turning the worst possible outcomes into a positive. That doesn’t mean the healing process will be easy. Nothing in life is easy that means something to us.