April 8, 2018 6:40 pm
Updated: April 8, 2018 6:52 pm

Manitoba junior hockey players reflect on Humboldt Broncos tragedy

The book of commemoration outside the first game in the MMJHL series final Sunday.

Amber McGuckin/Global News

Facing off in the first game of the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League championship series is supposed to be an exciting time, but for the player’s there’s a somber mood cast over the ice.

The hockey players from the Transcona Railer Express and the Raiders Jr. Hockey Club reflected on the recent Humbold Broncos bus crash tragedy that has claimed the lives of 15 people.

READ MORE: ‘Heartbroken and completely devastated’: 15 dead in Humboldt Broncos bus crash

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“I’ve been on a bus many times before and it feels like such a safe place where you’re with your teammates and you’re bonding. Something like that is just unimaginable,” Railers captain Nicolas Gravel said.

All of them remembered the countless times they’ve boarded a bus for the sport.

“It’s just crazy, unbelievable. After all the bus rides we’ve taken playing hockey it could’ve been any of us so it’s hard to believe that it happened to them. It’s terrible, it’s really tough for the hockey community,” Nick Mathews, from the Raiders said.

READ MORE: Here are the victims of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash

The players had a moment of silence before the puck dropped and outside the rink was a donation bucket and book for people to sign for the Humboldt Broncos.

“Humboldt is obviously front and centre with the MMJHL,” Ned Sanders, Raiders GM said.  “As I’m talking to you, I’m still in complete disbelief. Your kid goes out the door to a hockey game and he just comes back. When it doesn’t happen it’s just a horrific, horrific tragedy.”

READ MORE: Cause of Humboldt Broncos bus crash remains unknown

Bruce Schmidt, vice president of hockey operations for the Railers said he always felt like the bus was a place for relaxation.

“I looked forward to the bus trips. It was a safe place and one that you could leave the driving to the driver and relax and get to the game and play. I’ve been on that bus a lot.”

Both teams wanted to honour the Humboldt players on the ice.

“It’s definitely in the back of everyone’s minds,” Carson Rybuck, with the Raiders said. “They’re definitely in our hearts. I think both sides are going to be playing for the young men today.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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