Canada Drayton Valley, former home of three Humboldt Broncos, remembers what players meant to them

07:25  11 april  2018
07:25  11 april  2018 Source:   Edmonton Journal

Funerals today for Broncos players Logan Schatz, Parker Tobin

  Funerals today for Broncos players Logan Schatz, Parker Tobin Funerals today for Broncos players Logan Schatz, Parker TobinParker Tobin is being laid to rest in a funeral service at the Glenn Hall Arena in Stony Plain, Alta.

Former Canadian hockey star Hayley Wickenheiser knew a couple of the players on the team that didn’t survive. A spokesperson for the Drayton Valley Thunder Junior A hockey family said Tyler Smith, who ' They 're your kids': Rod Stewart pays tribute to Humboldt Broncos during Calgary show.

Former Humboldt player : Accident 'heart-wrenching' for community. Smith had previously played as a forward for the Drayton Valley Thunder in the 2016-17 season before being acquired by the Humboldt Broncos .

Drayton Valley — Parker Tobin and Tyler Smith weren’t in Drayton Valley for long, but the young hockey players left a lasting impression.

Funeral for Humboldt Broncos' Parker Tobin set for Sunday afternoon

  Funeral for Humboldt Broncos' Parker Tobin set for Sunday afternoon Funeral for Humboldt Broncos' Parker Tobin set for Sunday afternoonThe 18-year-old grew up in Stony Plain and played in nearby Spruce Grove and Drayton Valley before being traded to the Broncos. The funeral and celebration of life is scheduled from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. for viewing and last respects.

Three players from the Humboldt Broncos hold hands in hospital. Hockey commentators Don Cherry, top row left, Ron MacLean, top row centre, and former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy, bottom row centre, join other mourners attending a vigil at the Elgar Petersen Arena, home of the Humboldt

Three players from the Humboldt Broncos hold hands in hospital. Hockey commentators Don Cherry, top row left, Ron MacLean, top row centre, and former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy, bottom row centre, join other mourners attending a vigil at the Elgar Petersen Arena, home of the Humboldt

The two were part of the 2016-17 Drayton Valley Thunder, helping the Junior A team to the AJHL playoffs. Both billeted with families in the community of just over 7,000 people. For awhile, it was home.

“They become family, for sure,” said Cory Anne Holmlund, whose family billeted Tobin during his time in Drayton Valley.

The next season, their hockey dreams took them to other small towns. They were reunited on the Humboldt Broncos.

The two players were in the thoughts of the approximately 400 people at a Tuesday night vigil for the team at the Drayton Valley Omniplex.

Smith survived the bus crash Friday that claimed 15 lives and injured 14 in Saskatchewan as the Broncos headed for a game in Nipawin. Tobin, the world learned Monday, did not.

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Three players from the Humboldt Broncos hold hands in hospital. Hockey commentators Don Cherry, top row left, Ron MacLean, top row centre, and former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy, bottom row centre, join other mourners attending a vigil at the Elgar Petersen Arena, home of the Humboldt

Ten players on the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team roster call Alberta home . A photo showing three players holding hands while lying in A spokesperson for the Drayton Valley Thunder Junior A hockey family said Tyler Smith, who played for the team last season, was hurt in the crash.

Logan Hunter, another player killed in the crash, also spent time in Drayton Valley as a boy.

“On the weekend, everyone succumbed to grief — not just for Tyler and Parker, but for all of the players,” said Cindy Waronek, one of the owners of the Thunder.

“Because we’re a similar organization in a similar sized town. We do the same thing they do — get on the bus and go to other towns to play hockey. It’s exactly what we do, so we totally understand the tragedy of it.”

Communities that once claimed Humboldt players as their own have grieved in hockey arenas across western Canada since the crash. Another vigil is scheduled for Wednesday between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Grant Fuhr Arena in Spruce Grove, where Tobin later played.

In Drayton Valley, two Thunder jerseys bearing the players’ names were displayed on a table on the dry ice surface — organizers had to requisition jerseys from current players because there wasn’t time to make new ones. Mourners held candles in green plastic cups and listened to songs and prayers.

Humboldt Broncos bus crash victim Brody Hinz mourned at funeral

  Humboldt Broncos bus crash victim Brody Hinz mourned at funeral Humboldt Broncos bus crash victim Brody Hinz mourned at funeralA touching ceremony was held at the funeral for Brody Hinz, 18, who died in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in Saskatchewan last week.

Three players from the Humboldt Broncos hold hands in hospital. Hockey commentators Don Cherry, top row left, Ron MacLean, top row centre, and former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy, bottom row centre, join other mourners attending a vigil at the Elgar Petersen Arena, home of the Humboldt

Lives 15 of them lost suddenly Friday when the bus driving the Humboldt Broncos Gosselin finished last season with Drayton Valley in Alberta, where he But for the majority of the players , like these kids who were local stars in Humboldt , hockey is a passion above everything, a life experience.

Tobin, originally from Stony Plain, started as a backup goalie on the Thunder and got the starting role after the team’s starter injured himself. Smith, originally from Leduc, played forward.

Jeff Waronek, who still plays for the Thunder and is Cindy Waronek’s son, sat next to Smith — who everyone called “Smitty” — on long bus rides.

“It was a battle,” he said. “We fought hard to make the playoffs and really relied on them a lot. Our starter was injured and Parker came in and really stepped up and played really well. Tyler was just a great guy to have — he played every game, he was always doing everything he could for the team.”

“They really made my experience here great,” he said.

Tobin was later traded to Spruce Grove and played with the Saints hockey club before being traded to Humboldt, Cindy Waronek said.

Holmlund remembers him as a smart kid with a sense of humour — an avid gamer and a “terrible” dancer who at a moment’s notice would drop everything and help her son with his math homework.

“He was just an all-around great kid,” she said.

Hockey Edmonton and elite hockey clubs in the city also are organizing an event Thursday to honour the

Broncos. The informal gathering from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Canadian Athletic Club Arena, 14645 142 St., will start with a prayer and include an open skate from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Organizers are asking for a $5 donation for those wishing to skate, with funds going to the Broncos.

jwakefield@postmedia.com

Humboldt Broncos bus involved in highway crash .
A bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos has been involved in a crash north of Tisdale. The collision, which RCMP said was a “serious” crash, happened on Highway 35 about 30 kilometres north of Tisdale, near the junction of Highway 335.The Nipawin Hawks, which were supposed to meet the Broncos in Game 5 of their SJHL semifinal series on Friday night, said on Facebook the game was cancelled.“The accident being talked about involved Humboldt team bus. We ask during this time that you don’t send messages. When more information is given we will update,” the Hawks posted on Friday evening.

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