When the Humboldt Broncos got back on the ice last fall it marked the start of a new chapter for the team.
One of the people tasked with telling that story was Rory McGouran, a newcomer to the community who had a front-row seat for the team’s rebirth.
The collision between the 2017-18 Broncos’ bus and a semi-trailer on April 6, 2018, claimed the lives of 16 players and staff on their way to a playoff game. Thirteen others were injured.
Bieber, a 29-year-old Humboldt native, was in his first year as a play-by-play announcer with the junior A hockey club when he died.
When the 2018-19 Broncos returned to the ice this season rebuilt, they did so with a new man behind the microphone.
“I wanted to be the person to bring the Broncos back on the radio. I knew that not everyone could listen to it but I wanted to be the one to do that,” McGouran said.
He came to Humboldt from Winnipeg to follow his true passion: calling the action.
“I believe a really good play-by-play guy can take a listener on a ride; there’s going to be ups, there’s going to be downs, there’s going to be a climax and it’s just fun to tell the story of the game on the ice,” McGouran said.
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The story he told was of a team trying to rebuild itself after unspeakable tragedy.
“The first couple games … the nerves are a little high and seeing the players on the ice and how well they gelled very quickly, and then welcoming me in as well into the team and giving me the time of day, it made things a lot easier,” McGouran said.
The rebuilt Broncos defied the odds, getting all the way back to within one win of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) semi-finals.
“Along with the weight they carried on their shoulders, they carried this green and gold community, the Bronco-watching world and the incredible team that was on the ice,” McGouran said.
“They carried them back into the playoffs and back to a Game 7 against a team that was in the finals a year before and I just believe that they should be extremely proud of that.”
The Broncos will be back next SJHL season and McGouran will be, too, bringing the action to life and preserving the legacy of those who are no longer with them.