The crowd rose to their feet and cheered after the P.A. announcer asked the audience to “please give a warm welcome to Matthieu Gomercic and his family.” Gomercic is 20 years old, a Winnipeg native and was one of the survivors of the bus crash that took the lives of 16 people – including several Humboldt Broncos players – just two weeks ago.
Gomercic was released from the hospital last week, and was at Bell MTS Place Friday evening to watch the Jets in the post-season match. The crowd gave him and his family a roaring applause, as Gomercic waved to the crowd and smiled.
Global News previously reported that Gomercic went to École Christine-Lespérance from kindergarten to Grade 8 and later attended high school at Collège Jeanne-Sauvé. He’s been playing left wing with the Broncos since 2016.
The Humboldt Broncos were on their way to play the Nipawin Hawks in a semifinal game when a semi-truck and the team bus collided on Saskatchewan’s Highway 35. There were 29 people on the bus in total, and 10 players were killed in the crash.
In addition, the team’s head coach, assistant coach, athletic therapist, play-by-play announcer, statistician and bus driver were among those killed in the crash.
The accident drew tributes and prayers from Canadians, world leaders, and social media users around the world. In addition, memorials to those killed in the crash have been held across the country, and several NHL teams have commemorated the team with statements, tributes before games and even visits to the survivor’s hospital rooms.
With Gomercic in attendance, the Jets didn’t disappoint. Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves and the Jets scored four goals in the first period to eliminate the Minnesota Wild with a 5-0 victory in Game 5 of their best-of-seven series.
It marked the first playoff-series win in franchise history. Winnipeg moves on to the second round of the NHL Western Conference playoffs, where they’ll face either Nashville or Colorado. The Nashville Predators are ahead in that series 3-2, with Game 6 in Colorado on Sunday.
The Jets finished second in the league in the regular season with 114 points (52-20-10), which saw the Jets set franchise records for both wins and points.
-With a file from Amber McGuckin and the Canadian Press.