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365 Days Humboldt Strong

Saturday, April 6th
365 Days Humboldt Strong

366 days ago, few could have found the small town of Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada on a map. Fewer could have told you much about the Humboldt Broncos hockey team or the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. 366 days ago, 29 members of the Humboldt Bronco organization, including players, trainers, and coaches, were preparing for a playoff hockey game. The excitement in the small Canadian town was brewing as a series against rival Nipawin was heating up leading into game 5 of the series. 366 days ago, life was normal. The past 365 days have been anything but. 

Tyler Bieber, 29, broadcaster

Dayna Brons, 24, athletic therapist 

Logan Boulet, 21, defenseman

Mark Cross, 27, assistant coach  

Glen Doerksen, bus driver

Darcy Haugan, 42, head coach 

Adam Herold, 16, defenseman

Brody Hinz, 18, statistician 

Logan Hunter, 18, forward

Jaxon Joseph, 20, forward 

Jacob Leicht, 19, forward  

Conner Lukan, 21, forward  

Logan Schatz, 20, forward

Evan Thomas, 18, forward  

Parker Tobin, 18, goalie

Stephen Wack, 21, defenseman 

There is a stretch of forlorn highway in Saskatchewan that now serves as a makeshift memorial to these sixteen lives. Sixteen lives permanently engraved in history as victims of one of the most tragic events in sports history. Along that stretch of highway, a bus driven by Glen Doerksen encountered an intersection that would change a country, a continent, and a culture forever as a tractor trailer travelling perpendicular to him blew through a stop sign.  

While we can never bring those sixteen lives back, the hockey community is steadfast in its commitment to their memory. We cried tears of pain and grief for sixteen people most of us never met, but the connection we had with them was undeniable. Sticks found their way to numerous porches around the world, “just in case the boys need one…wherever they are.”  

The broadcasting community remembered Tyler Bieber with a moment of silence during their broadcasts to allow Tyler to call just one more. Logan Boulet will forever live on in the lives of others as an organ donor; in death, there is life.  

Darcy Haugan has been remembered as an inspirational coach and mentor of young men, a loving husband and father, and a man of incredible faith. The powerful message of his core covenant has found its way into numerous locker rooms and classrooms over the past 365 days. 

The Core Covenant 

Family first. To treat my teammates and co-workers with respect. To be thankful for the opportunity to wear the Bronco jersey. To play each game and practise with passion and determination. To conduct ourselves with honesty and integrity. To treat all volunteers, billets, sponsors and fans with respect and gratitude. Understand that we are building foundations for future generations with our words and actions. To always have hope and believe that everything is possible. To always give more than you take. To strive for greatness in all areas of life. 

For the thirteen survivors, some have returned to the ice, others are still dealing with recovery, and some have tried to develop some sense of normalcy in their lives again. The process is slow, as grief always is, and there is a long way to go before anything resembling normal will develop in their lives.  

365 days isn’t long enough to heal from the tragedy we encountered. The pain around hockey is still a fresh wound that will take time to heal. You can’t simply recover from a tragedy like this that took young folks with such bright futures far too soon.  A group of relative unknowns were thrust into the world spotlight in the wake of unthinkable loss; a group that shall forever be bonded together in death and in life.  

For 365 days, we’ve mourned, we’ve cried, and we’ve smiled at the memories of these sixteen souls and the legacy that left on this earth. Each of them were taken far too soon from us, but not soon forgotten. 

We are all Humboldt Hockey. We are all Humboldt Strong. 

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