Kelly Geraldine Malone and Ryan McKenna, The Canadian Press
HUMBOLDT, Sask. — There were tears and hugs as hundreds gathered to remember 15 people who died when the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team bus crashed with a tractor trailer late last week.
People laid flowers in a circle around centre ice in the Saskatchewan town’s rink as family and friends of players listened to prayers and hymns.
Pictures of the dead and injured were placed on stands at one end of the arena.
Nick Shumlanski, the only one of the 14 injured in the crash to be released from hospital, attended the vigil wearing his white, green and yellow team jersey, an obvious bruise under his left eye.
Team president Kevin Garinger acknowledged the shock and heartache in the room.
“I want to say to all the Humboldt Broncos families, billets, coaching staff, teammates, classmates, teachers, friends, community members: Not one of us is alone in our grief,” he said.
“Continue to reach out. Reach out to one another for help and support.”
Garinger then read off a list of the injured and dead, his voice breaking toward the end.
“Today and for every day forward we are all Humboldt Broncos and we will be forever Humboldt Broncos strong.”
The vigil took place the same night as Game 6 was scheduled to be played with the Nipawin Hawks in the Humboldt arena. There was a moment of silence at the time the game was supposed to start.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the vigil along with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe.
Trudeau visited survivors of the crash in a Saskatoon hospital earlier in the day.
Family and friends also shared more stories Sunday of their memories of those lost and unbreakable bonds forged by a love of the hockey.
More names were confirmed of those killed early Friday evening at an east-central Saskatchewan highway intersection
Scott Thomas remembered his 18-year-old son, defenceman Evan Thomas, as a strong athlete. He played both hockey and baseball and was a good student. But he was a teammate first.
“He liked sports, but at times I think he tolerated sports so he could be a teammate,” the father said in a phone interview with The Canadian Press. “He loved his teammates and I think that was more important to him than the actual sport he was playing.
“He loved those boys. He really loved those boys.”
Thomas said that before Christmas he spoke with the team’s head coach, Darcy Haugan, who was also killed in the crash, about whether there would be any trades for the second half of the season.
“Darcy just said, ‘You know, Scott, there’s something about this group of kids that’s special,’” he recalled. “He didn’t want to make any changes because they are such a great group of kids.”
Player Logan Boulet, 21, had been on life support until his organs were donated, cousin Julie Kindt said on Facebook.
“These actions alone give voice to the selfless and benevolent nature Logan possessed in life,” his godfather, Neil Langevin, posted in a statement on behalf of the family.
Assistant coach Chris Beaudry was driving his own vehicle to the game the night of the crash.
In an interview, he described his colleague, Mark Cross, as one of the happiest people he had ever met. Cross was from Strasbourg, Sask., where he played hockey before joining the Broncos’ coaching staff.
“His first game, we found a tin of mints and ever since then it’s been alternating back and forth, buying mints for each other and sharing it as a joke. We’d end up going through a whole tin every game,” said Beaudry.
Brody Hinz, 18, worked as the team statistician for the local radio station.
Golden West Radio said in a statement that Hinz was being mentored by Tyler Bieber, the team’s play-by-play announcer, who was also killed in the crash.
Adam Harold, a few days shy of his 17th birthday, was the youngest to die in the crash.
He had previously played with the Regina Pat Canadians but, when the Regina team’s season wrapped up, he was sent to join the Broncos for their playoff round, said Canadians manager John Smith.
Xavier Labelle, 18, was described by his brother Isaac Labelle in an Instagram post. “Best friends, teammates, allies, brothers,” he wrote. “We’ve been through so much together. We had a special bond from the day you were born.”
Jacob Leicht, 19, was remembered for his laugh and bright smile. A family member posted on Facebook that her heart is broken.
“Your laughter is so contagious and you had a smile that lit up any room,” Cassidy Tolley wrote in her public post.
Charlie’s Charters posted about the driver of the bus death on Facebook. Another team Glen Doerksen drove for, the Kinistino Tigers, also issued a statement.
“(Doerksen) spoke at length of his time in rinks with his own family and now how much he enjoyed being able to take and watch other teams from minor, to senior to SJHL to their hockey games,” a spokesperson for the Tigers wrote on Facebook.
“We will never forget the smile on your face as we left Allan after winning the championship and got you to give ‘two honks for the cup,’” they wrote.
Others killed include Broncos captain Logan Schatz, defenceman Stephen Wack and forwards Jaxon Joseph and Logan Hunter.
The intersection in east-central Saskatchewan where the crash happened reopened to traffic shortly before noon on Sunday.
RCMP officers from Nipawin, Sask., stopped to lay flowers there on behalf of the detachment. The Broncos had been heading to Nipawin for a playoff game when the crash happened.
While the wreckage had been removed, there were still playing cards and a broken DVD of the movie “Slap Shot” scattered in the ditch. The Hanson brothers, popular characters in the movie, tweeted condolences to the Broncos on the weekend, as did other celebrities.
The Queen also issued a statement.
“Prince Philip and I were saddened to hear word of the crash,” she said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost so much, with their families and with all Canadians who grieve with them at this difficult time.”
— With files from Chris Purdy, Colette Derworiz and Jonathan Hayward.