Organizers of a vigil west of Edmonton Wednesday night said they had to make use of overflow seating to accommodate everyone wanting to pay tribute to the lives of two Alberta hockey players killed when their team bus crashed in Saskatchewan last week.
Parker Tobin and Conner Lukan were among the 16 people killed last week when the Humboldt Broncos’ bus crashed while on the way to Nipiwan for a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoff game.
Wednesday’s vigil at the Grant Fuhr Arena in Spruce Grove, Alta. saw Tobin’s No. 30 and Lukan’s No. 12 retired from the Parkland Athletic Club roster in a two-hour ceremony. The arena holds about 1,200 people and massive lines of people could be seen on the street outside the arena ahead of the vigil. The street was lined with green and yellow ribbons, the team colours of the Broncos.
“Both Tobes and Lukes would be pretty happy about what we did for them tonight,” Graeme Dawes, chair of Parkland Athletic Club, told Global News after the event.
“To see all their buddies here, their friends from school and the other sports they played… I think they’d be looking down on us tonight and being really proud of what we did.”
Dawes said the community and businesses came together quickly to prepare the vigil. He said a company in Quebec did what it had to so it could supply the vigil with thousands of green and yellow ribbons for people to wear on their chest on just 48 hours notice.
View photos from Wednesday night’s vigil in the gallery below:
Some of the people waiting to get into the vigil spoke to Global News about why they felt it was important to attend.
“I just wanted to come and support the families and it’s part of the healing process for my own family, my sons,” Barb Borynec said.
Tobin, an 18-year-old from Stony Plain, Alta., was the Broncos’ goalie. He used to play for the the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Spruce Grove Saints. At first, Tobin was thought to be one of the survivors of the crash but the Saskatoon coroner’s officer later apologized, saying Tobin was accidentally misidentified as Xavier Labelle and that it was actually Tobin who had been killed. On Tuesday, Saskatchewan health officials said Labelle was recovering in hospital.
Watch below: On April 9, 2018, Jack Haskins filed this report after Parker Tobin was identified as one of the victims in a horrific bus crash in Saskatchewan.
Lukan, 21, hailed from Slave Lake, Alta. but the forward played with the Saints and also with the midget St. Albert Raiders before joining the Broncos last year.
Dawes said he believes the vigil served an important function for the community of Spruce Grove as it mourns the loss of Tobin and Lukan.
“I think anytime you’ve had a tragic loss like this…it was a devastating weekend, and to have something where people can share and have that time to grieve with each other is key for us. Our main focus tonight was the kids and giving them an opportunity to come back together as a team.
“It was amazing,” Dawes said when he was asked about the massive turnout for the vigil.
Watch below: A special game of shinny was played in Spruce Grove, Alta. on Friday, April 13, 2018 in honour of Conner Lukan and Parker Tobin, two of the Humboldt Broncos hockey players who were killed in a crash involving their team bus.
-With files from Global News’ Kim Smith