By Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
SLAVE LAKE, Alta. — He tore around on quads, roughhoused with his friends and, of course, played hockey.
But Conner Lukan, who died in a crash involving the Humboldt Broncos team bus, was remembered at his funeral Wednesday as someone who also knew the ins and outs of the romance reality show “The Bachelor.”
He loved animals, except for squirrels.
His friends called him a guy who could make your troubles disappear with a chat and a cup of coffee.
And his coaches said he was a quiet leader, who knew when to demand more from his teammates and when to lead by example.
About 700 people gathered at the Gathering Place church in Lukan’s hometown of Slave Lake, Alta., to say goodbye.
Kevin and Kathy Garinger, who billeted the 21-year-old forward during his time with the Broncos, said he came for a season but will stay in their hearts forever.
They said it was love at first sight as he made several trips from his car on the first night he arrived at their home.
“He was only supposed to be there for a night or two, but he was settling in for the long haul,” Kathy Garinger recalled.
“Kevin (kept) saying over and over, ‘He’s such a great kid. Isn’t he a great kid?’ And, finally, ‘Can we keep him?’”
Lukan was one of 16 people who died after a transport truck and the Saskatchewan junior hockey team’s bus collided at a rural Saskatchewan intersection on April 6. The Broncos were on their way to a playoff game.
His obituary said he moved from Slave Lake to Spruce Grove at the age of 13 to pursue his passion.
Lukan played for three seasons with the Spruce Grove Saints in the Alberta Junior Hockey League before joining the Broncos last year.
“Conner’s big heart, coupled with his pug nose and award-winning smile, made him loved by all who knew him,” the obituary said.
Sean Brandow, the hockey team’s pastor, said Lukan loved life.
His former teammates have remembered him on social media as a role model.
Ryan Rechner, one of his former coaches, also paid tribute to Lukan on Tuesday at a memorial for four of his teammates in Edmonton.
“Conner was a heart and soul Spruce Grove Saint, and a great leader,” he said.