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

Langley hosting high-flying fun at annual gymnastics tournament

Action runs Friday through Sunday at the Langley Events Centre fieldhouse.

BREAKING: Plecas won’t run in next election if legislature oversight reforms pass

B.C. Speaker and Abbotsford South MLA says he feels ‘great sympathy’ for Jody Wilson-Raybould

Langley Secondary students rehearse upcoming musical comedy

The Langley Secondary Musical Theatre Company presents Guys and Dolls on Feb. 22.

Guatemala mission offers hope, health

Peninsula team to visit remote villages, build a home, in Piedra Blanca

Annual Aldergrove Fair announces 2019 theme: ‘Aldy on the Moon’

The fair is gathering space memorabilia as well as some of the people involved in the space program.

VIDEO: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony features athletes from across Canada

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Flying squirrels found to glow pink in the dark, including two from B.C.

Squirrels from Hope and Abbotsford were included in the biologists’ database

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Man taken to hospital for smoke inhalation, burns after fire at RV park

Firefighters find man suffering from smoke inhalation, burns to face and hands: battalion chief

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Wilson-Raybould resignation stokes anger, frustration within veterans community

Liberals have had three veterans-affairs ministers — Kent Hehr, Seamus O’Regan and Wilson-Raybould

No Center of Gravity festival in Kelowna this summer: organizers

COG organizers said the hope is to return to the Okanagan in 2020

Most Read