WATCH: It’s been just two days after a fatal bus crash killed fifteen people in Saskatchewan, but the effects are being felt far and wide, including right here on Vancouver Island. In Port Alberni, people are planning a vigil for later this week. As Kendall Hanson tell us, this tragedy hits close to home for the local hockey community.
Port Alberni’s multiplex is a busy place right now, 120 players from as far away as Manitoba are vying for a spot on the Alberni Valley Bulldogs team.
Those here say the mood has been very different ever since the news broke about the horrific crash that killed 15 on the Humbolt Broncos bus.
“Shock. I think like everyone else it’s the worst nightmare for everyone involved in the game and it’s just a terrible tragedy,” said Matt Hughes, head coach of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
“Many of our players know the players involved in the accident,” said Tali Campbell, Alberni Valley Bulldogs Operations Director.
Among the connections the Bulldogs head coach knew and had recently seen the Broncos head coach who was among those killed.
“Knew him over the years from crossing paths in the different leagues that we’ve both been involved in and it’s hard to believe,” said Hughes.
Feeling gutted despite being provinces apart the Alberni Valley Bulldogs decided to hold a public vigil this coming Thursday.
“We’re a small community like the community of Humboldt,” said Campbell. “They’re a population of 6000. We’re a population of 16,000 so it was a no-brainer to do something to show our support.”
The reaction to the vigil to be held at the multiplex Thursday has been huge. Organizers are now expecting hundreds to attend.
A sign, commemorating the players killed, will be installed on one of the rinks boards and players will wear a patch, that says #PRAYFORHUMBOLDT, throughout the upcoming season.
“The next time any junior hockey player or anyone steps on a bus they’re going to be stepping a little harder because they know what happened in the community of Humboldt,” said Campbell.
Like many teams, the Alberni Valley Bulldogs are on the road for close to 40 days with hundreds of hours spent travelling on buses.
The tragedy resonating with players, family and those connected with hockey who worry about safety not only at the rink but on the many roads and highways travelling to games.