Humboldt Broncos practice ahead of first home game since bus crash

The Humboldt Broncos opened their home preseason schedule with a 7-4 win.

HUMBOLDT, Sask. — The Humboldt Broncos, wearing memorial stickers on their helmets, were back on the ice Tuesday for a practice before Wednesday’s much-anticipated home opener.

Their opponents, the Nipawin Hawks, are the same junior A hockey team the Broncos were on their way to play April 6 when their bus collided with a tractor-trailer at a rural intersection.

Sixteen people, including 10 players, were killed and 13 players were injured.

Only two of the survivors — Derek Patter and Brayden Camrud — are back on the team this season and were to play in Wednesday’s sold-out game.

Four of the survivors have signed to play with post-secondary institutions in Ontario and Prince Edward Island this fall. Two remain in hospital suffering from brain injuries, while two others were paralyzed in the crash.

Head coach Darcy Haugan and assistant coach Mark Cross were killed, while assistant coach Chris Beaudry has taken a new position with another team in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

Haugan’s widow, Christina, said it’s going to be tough to see the team back the ice without her husband.

"Not having Darcy behind the bench like he should be and watching the team is going to be incredibly hard and emotional, but we will do it kind of like we have done all the other steps in this journey and it is one moment at a time," she told Regina radio station CKRM in an interview this week.

A post-game ceremony will be held Wednesday to honour all those affected by the crash.

Four others who played some games with the Broncos during the 2017-18 season are also on this year’s team: Mitchell Girolami, Reagan Poncelet, Zach McIntyre and Kade Olsen.

The remaining 16 players on the 22-player roster, as well as the coaching staff, joined the team after the crash.

The Broncos will be back on the team bus Friday for a game in Nipawin.

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