By Sam Scanlon ’19
The Humboldt Broncos, a Canadian hockey team in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), were slated to faceoff against the Nipawin Hawks in game five of their seven-game semi-final playoff series. The Broncos trailed 3-1 in the series and were in jeopardy of being eliminated from the playoffs in their next game.
The Broncos were set for a crucial game in Nipawin in the early afternoon on April 6, and only about a two hour bus ride stood in the way of the Broncos taking the ice. Long bus rides are just a part of the business for junior hockey teams. They are a chance for players to relax with their friends and teammates, watch movies together, and joke with each other before big games like the one looming over the Broncos.
Some time into the ride, the bus carrying 29 members of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team, traveling north on Highway 35 in Saskatchewan, Canada, collided with a tractor-trailer at an intersection with Highway 335.
The crash left the team bus in ruins as it slid on its side down the highway, roof torn off, projecting the bodies of the players and staff from inside onto the highway.
Sixteen lives were taken, including 10 players, two coaches, the radio announcer, the team statistician, the bus driver, and the athletic trainer. The remaining 13 people on the bus escaped with injuries ranging from critical to minor, with some being deemed miracles for surviving the devastation.
The hockey community as a whole was shattered that day. Eventually, the whole country of Canada, as well as the United States, felt the impact of this terrible tragedy as President Donald Trump tweeted his sympathies to the families and friends, and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft sent his condolences with a large array of flowers.
Countless heartbreaking tributes were given across the National Hockey League, including the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets playing their April 7 game with the name “Broncos” on the backs of their jerseys instead of their own last names. Many NHL teams stood united at center ice before their April 7 games to pay tribute to the Broncos during a moment of silence.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, one of the top players of this generation and undoubtedly the favorite player of numerous Humboldt Broncos, had a special Penguins jersey made which read “HUMBOLDT 18” on the back and had the entire Penguins roster sign it and sent it to the Broncos. The Stanley Cup, which is awarded to the NHL Champion, recently made its way to Saskatchewan to visit the injured Broncos in the hospital.
Along with an extremely successful GoFundMe campaign and countless tributes from NHL teams and players, people across the world mourned alongside Humboldt and honored them by putting their hockey sticks outside of their doors and wearing hockey jerseys on April 12.
After this horrible tragedy, the entire Providence College community prays with Humboldt and stands beside them as they mourn the loss of so many members of their beloved hockey team. We are all Broncos.