Penticton Vees goaltender Michael Garteig reaches out to make a save on a Humboldt Broncos player in 2012. Humboldt hosted the 2012 RBC Cup national championship which the Vees won that year. Western News file photo

Penticton Vees mourning friends killed in Humboldt bus crash

The Penticton Vees won the national hockey title in 2012 in the host community of Humboldt

Penticton Vees head coach Fred Harbinson said players on his team are in mourning for friends that were killed in a bus crash carrying a junior hockey team from Saskatchewan.

“We reached out to all our players and at least three of them have lost friends in this horrible, tragic situation. This is tough. Anytime anyone loses someone whether that is a friend or family member, it is tough. As a head coach, with kids of his own, it just shows you how one second can change your life. We talked to the players today and you know it’s kind of embarrassing how much stock we sometimes put in wins and losses because something like this knocks reality back into you and reminds you what really matters,” said Harbinson, who is also the general manager and president of the Vees.

Related: Former BCHL player one of the 15 dead in Broncos bus crash

The Humboldt Broncos were heading to a playoff game in Nipawin when it was T-boned by a tractor trailer on Friday night. RCMP confirmed 15 people have died and that another 15 were taken to hospital.

Related: RCMP say cause of fatal Humboldt Broncos bus crash still unknown

Harbinson said he had spoken on the phone to the coach of the Broncos, Darcy Haugan, who is one of the 15 who died, many times.

“The hockey community is all connected. I have talked to, as GM’s and coaches often do, to coach Darcy many times over the past few years. He was a fabulous guy.”

The Vees won the national title in 2012 in the host community of Humboldt, a town of roughly 5,600 people located about 100 kilometres east of Saskatoon.

“It is a great community with great people. As a parent and a coach I am at a loss for words. I can’t imagine what they are going through. It is going to change that city forever,” said Harbinson.

Related: Donations reach over $1 million for families after Humboldt Broncos bus crash

From coast-to-coast people having been sharing their thoughts for those affected and the community of Humboldt itself. Harbinson said the Vees management group donated money to the GoFundMe account set up by a resident of Humboldt to help families with any expenses. The Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks are showing their support in Saturday night’s NHL game by wearing the word “Broncos” on the back of their jerseys in place of their individual names. As well, proceeds from the 50/50 draw from the game will be donated to the Broncos and both hockey clubs have already donated $25,000 to the pot.

“This really hits home. We are on a bus day-after-day during the course of a season. We drive at night and in tough conditions sometimes. There are often a lot great memories when hockey players look back on their careers that are built on those buses as guys create lifelong bonds,” said Harbinson. “For coaches and players across the country, across North America, everyday we get on those buses. Thinking of what those families are going through now just tears you apart.”

The Vees coach said the next time he steps on a bus for a team trip, those affected by the tragedy will be in his thoughts.

“No question. I think it changes everything. I remember when I was a bantam when the crash that killed people on the Swift Current team happened and it is always something that has stuck in my head. Even one time playing in junior hockey I had a really bad scare driving in bad conditions in Alberta and I remember that night like it was yesterday,” he said. “This is something that really hits home for everyone.”

Related: B.C. survivor of Swift Current Broncos 1986 crash reflects on Humboldt tragedy

Players and members of the Penticton Vees organization have been sharing their thoughts on social media:


Kristi Patton | Editor

KristiPatton

Send Kristi Patton an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Jeep crashes into vehicle and drops down embankment

An accident occurred on Greenwood Drive

Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce to offer “speed-dating” style candidate forums

Participants will have 5 minutes to chat with each participating candidate

Injured mountain biker rescued from trail

A helicopter was needed to safely extricate a injured mountain biker from Blind Mice trails

Penticton neighbourhood surprised by emergency response team activity

RCMP officers were conducting emergency response training

Bird migration open house draws more than 100 people

Rare chance to observe conservation work

VIDEO: Rare close encounter with whale pod spotted off B.C. waters

Pod of southern resident orca whales breach within arms length of whale watchers

Who’s running in Penticton’s election?

Candidates for the Penticton municipal and school board election

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

Okanagan College student population climbs

Enrolment up nearly 14 per cent

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

Coldstream supports Okanagan College Campus residence project

Project would see a 100-bed residence on the Vernon campus in Coldstream

Most Read