By Ryan McKenna, The Canadian Press
NIPAWIN, Sask. — A moment of silence was held before Game 1 of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League final on Saturday to honour members of the Humboldt Broncos who were killed in a bus crash.
Players from both the Nipawin Hawks and Estevan Bruins formed a circle around centre ice to honour the 16 who died after the team’s bus collided with a semi-trailer at a rural intersection north of Tisdale on April 6. Thirteen others were injured.
The Broncos were on their way to a playoff game in Nipawin when the crash happened.
A faint sound of sobbing was heard in the sold-out crowd of 1,200 at Centennial Arena in Nipawin during the ceremony.
Hawks players wore green helmets to honour the Broncos in warm-up and both teams were wearing Humboldt Broncos ribbons on their jerseys.
First responders were honoured and walked out onto the ice to a standing ovation.
Among those in attendance for the game were Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe along with the mayor of Humboldt, Rob Muench.
Former NHLer Chris Joseph, whose son Jaxon died in the crash, tweeted before the game: “Tonight I cheer for SJHL!!! Go Hawks, Go Bruins. We’re all so happy you are playing.”
The Bruins took time on Friday night to stop at the crash site and pay their respects at the roadside memorial.
T-shirts with the hashtag #SaskStrong were on sale near the entrance with $5 from the funds being donated to the Broncos.
The game’s 50/50 sales were to be donated to Humboldt head coach Darcy Haugan’s family along with cotton candy sales. Haugan was one of the 16 who died.
Note: The winner of the SJHL final goes to the Anavet Cup against the Manitoba league champion with the winner of that going to the Royal Bank Cup in Chilliwack, B.C., in May.