For Junior Humphries, president of the Labrador West minor hockey association, the news of the tragic accident involving the hickey team in Humboldt Saskatchewan, was like a punch that came out of nowhere. Fifteen people died and 14 were injured when a bus carrying the team, coaches and volunteers collided with a transport truck.
“This really hits home,” he told the Aurora. “Hockey is like family, we train together, we play all season and then travel to tournaments at the end of the hockey season. What these young players and their support team we’re doing , was exactly what many of our young hockey players were doing at exactly the same time.”
Easter week is a busy time for provincial hockey. Humphries said there were eight teams on the island for tournaments that week and two female teams the week before. In all that was about 160 young people and their coaches, parents and volunteers traveling in vehicles, or mini vans all over the province. It hits home, this could happen here, but nobody wants to think of that.
Humphries says sometimes it means landing in Deer Lake then having to drive to Port aux Basques, or Landing in St Johns near midnight and having to drive to Harbor Grace.
It’s a worry that has been discussed, says Humphries.
Hockey players, their families and friends all across the province, Canada, and the world feel the loss and can relate to this tragedy, he explains.
“All of our young players can relate to what it’s like to be together as a team, to skate, train , travel as a team. Then to have to face a tragedy like this, I’m sure this has crossed the minds of our young people, their parents and coaches and volunteers since news of the accident,” Humphries said.
The young hockey players in the province showed respect to the members of the Humboldt Broncos this week, according to Humphries. There were moments of silence before games. He says he was particularly proud of the fact a Bantam team from Labrador West took it upon themselves to gather in a circle for two minutes of silence before their game in Deer Lake, and taped Broncos on their jerseys.
“That shows the respect and the closeness the hockey families have for each other,” he explains.
Meanwhile Humphries says tributes on social media, and the immediate response to assist the families of those who died, and those who are injured shows the closeness of the hockey community.
The tragedy has already set some discussion in place about volunteers, who offer to drive to these tournaments
And if it will affect how they think about doing so in the future, or how parents will feel when they see their children board a bus to travel to an event.
Meanwhile Humphries says the most important thing right now is to offer condolences, and support to the many people who have been affected directly and indirectly by this tragedy.
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