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

Surrey Community Leader Awards winners revealed

The 16th CLA awards, presented by the Now-Leader, recognized Surrey’s un-sung heroes

COMMUTER ALERT: Serious pedestrian crash closes Pacific Highway

Traffic along 176th Street, 4th to 8th Avenue, is blocked while Mounties continue to investigate.

MPs meet with Surrey council to discuss RCMP, LRT

Federal government to have quarterly meetings with Surrey

Hogg curious if a new recreation centre is needed in Grandview Heights

South Surrey-White Rock MP to host a Town Hall Meeting tonight

Talent show: Cloverdale girl, 8, memorizes entire periodic table

Grade 4 student Maya Lakhanpal heads to B.C. talent show finals with unique talent

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Tubing, skating, light display part of new winter festival in Vancouver

Set to open Nov. 23, the six-week festival will take over Vancouver’s Concord Pacific Centre

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Regulatory confusion over ‘toxic’ stink near Abbotsford school

Officials sniffing out which regulators responsible for enforcing compliance at neighbouring property

Most Read