The 16 people killed in a crash involving a junior hockey team bus in rural Saskatchewan included many young players, their coach and assistant coach, the team’s trainer, a play-by-play radio announcer, an 18-year-old stats-keeper, and a bus driver who had driven for many teams in the region.
Tyler Bieber, 29, Humboldt, Sask.
Mr. Bieber began working at Humboldt radio station 107.5 Bolt FM after moving back to the community from Regina in 2014. Mr. Bieber was a devoted sports fan and had a particular love for football, starting his own Canadian Football League website and the @CFLDaily Twitter account, and later writing for cfl.ca before becoming “the voice of the Broncos” calling play-by-play at games.
In a Facebook post, radio-station manager Brian Kusch described Mr. Bieber as “the heartbeat of the station.” Friends and colleagues remembered him on social media as a dedicated journalist, and an active member of both the online sports world and his home community.
Steven Wilson, a co-worker in Weyburn, Sask., said it was Mr. Bieber’s first season announcing for the team. He also covered morning news.
”He definitely had a natural talent,“ Mr. Wilson said. ”He was just passionate about sports.“
Logan Boulet, 21, Lethbridge, Alta.
Mr. Boulet’s cousin Trevor Kish, also from Lethbridge, said he was generous and mature beyond his years.
“You could count on him, all the time. You knew he was going to do the right thing,” Mr. Kish said in an interview. “You knew he was going to be a good person.”
Mr. Boulet had lived away from home for some years, playing in Kindersley, Sask., before moving on to Humboldt, Mr. Kish said. “We all agreed, you’re young – you gotta take your chance. You can’t look back on it and wonder ‘what if?’
”He honestly was different. We all know people that age – and he wasn’t that guy that went out and fooled around and partied. He was the guy that was always there for his friends.”
News that Logan Boulet’s death had resulted in several of his organs being donated offered a sliver of hope amid the tragedy.
“Through his tragic death, others survive,” amateur scout Top Shelf Prospects wrote on Twitter.
“Logan Boulet and family are Canadian heroes. Families have futures because of him. Remember this smile.”
Dayna Brons, 24, Lake Lenore, Sask.
Ms. Brons, the team’s athletic therapist and equipment manager, grew up on a farm near Lake Lenore, Sask. She studied kinesiology at the University of Regina and and completed the athletic therapy program at Mount Royal University in Calgary in 2016. She joined the Broncos that summer.
While in university, Ms. Brons created Let’s Warm Up!, an online book to teach 8- to 10-year-olds about warming up before playing sports.
“Dayna will be forever remembered for her joyful smile, and her passion and love of sport,” her family said in a statement when they announced her death.
Lacrosse and soccer teams that Ms. Brons also worked with offered their support for the keen, happy trainer on social media. So did Canadian women’s hockey Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser.
″‘The only girl on the boys team’ ... Dayna I’ve been thinking of you a lot! Praying you pull through,” she said.
Mark Cross, 27, Strasbourg, Sask.
The team’s assistant coach, Mark Cross was from Strasbourg, where he was named most valuable player last year while playing with the Maroons in the Highway Hockey League.
“I can honestly say I didn’t know a more kind-hearted, generous, caring and overall nice person,″ his cousin Graeme Cross said in an online tribute.
“Mark was one of those people that just made you feel safe and brought a special spark when you were in his presence.″
Peter McBride, a former assistant hockey coach at York University, coached Mr. Cross during his years with the York Lions. He said he never changed from being the hard-working athlete, natural leader and dedicated partner to his longtime girlfriend Molly, who he was when he first moved to Toronto from small-town Saskatchewan.
“The kid that we got in first year and the man that left me five years later was the same guy — he was incredibly grounded, he was incredibly gracious, he was liked by everyone and respected by everybody,” said Mr. McBride.
“Nothing changed – he was that way when he came in and he was that way when he left.″
Mr. McBride said he will always remember Mr. Cross’s smile — in games, practices, and his dealings with people.
“He was a really, really good hockey player for us. But he was an even better person,” Mr. McBride said.
Glen Doerksen, 59, Carrot River, Sask.
The long-time bus driver was beloved by hundreds of junior hockey players across Western Canada and their parents for taking their children to and from dozens of tournaments.
Robyn Gagne of Saskatoon remembers how Mr. Doerksen would not only drive the players to the rink, but he would also take a keen interest on how they did once they got there.
“Glen was an amazing man, who loved his job and every single one of his ‘boys,’” she wrote on Facebook.
Mr. Doerksen, who drove her son numerous times over the course of his eight years playing junior hockey, was always cheery even when the players were “loud and bratty on those long trips to Edmonton or Winnipeg,” she remembers.
He also once officiated and sat on the board of directors for his hometown Junior B team, the Carrot River Thunder from 2006 to 2011. The team paid tribute to Mr. Doerksen on its website, writing: “his energy and cheerfulness brought many things to the rink.”
Another local junior team, the Kinistino Tigers, remembered Mr. Doerksen as a trustworthy during stormy winter road trips.
“We got on that bus and trusted him with our lives and both times he got us home safely,” the team said in a Facebook post.
“Tonight, Glen, we give two honks for you. Rest easy, sir.”
Brody Hinz, 18, Humboldt, Sask.
“Stats guy For The @HumboldtBroncos of the SJHL at just 18 years old!,” Brody Hinz’s Twitter bio proudly proclaimed. And indeed, at a young age the devoted sports fan with an affinity for crunching statistics had proven himself a valuable addition to his home team.
Mr. Hinz had also started working with the Humboldt radio station Bolt FM, where he was mentored by Mr. Beiber, the play-by-play announcer also killed in the crash. In addition to working in the hockey community in Humboldt, Mr. Hinz was active in the broader online sports community, and was mourned by those who knew him in that forum as well.
In a video entitled, “RIP Brody Hinz in Humboldt Tragedy,” popular B.C. YouTuber The Hockey Guy read aloud some of Mr. Hinz’s recent comments, and was moved to tears as he did.
“He was just a kid,” he said. “They were all just kids.”
Adam Herold, 16, Montmartre, Sask.
The youngest Bronco on the team’s playoff roster died a week shy of his 17th birthday after having been called up for the post-season push from the Regina Pat Canadians.
Pat Canadians’ manager John Smith described Mr. Herold as a hard worker and a good leader, noting that he was the Pat Canadians’ team captain for the 2017-2018 season.
“He was a wonderful young man. Never afraid to help his teammates. Always there for them. Good, typical Saskatchewan farm boy. Always load the bus, unload the bus, never afraid to roll up his sleeves and get work done,″ Mr. Smith said.
Mr. Smith said the teen is survived by his mom, dad and an older sister.
Darcy Haugan, 42, Humboldt, Sask.
The head coach of the Humboldt Broncos was described in online tributes as a “great man”′ and amazing mentor to young players. Mr. Haugan had been coaching the team for about four years, said his sister, Deborah Carpenter.
“His passion and compassion came from his walk with the Lord,” Ms. Carpenter said in an interview.
“He was my little brother,” she said. “He just turned over my world. He was just this great playmate and someone I could torment, someone I could play ball with. We were a sports family − he and I played a lot of sports in our backyard.”
Mr. Haugan, who was born in Peace River, Alta., went to Michigan on a hockey scholarship, although did not finish there. Later, he played hockey in Sweden. He played right wing and was a right-handed shooter, his sister said. When he was a kid, he wore the number their dad wore: No. 5.
He was married and the father of two boys.
Logan Hunter, 18, St. Albert, Alta.
Mr. Hunter was remembered as a cheery young man by the president of his former team, the St. Albert Raiders in his Alberta hometown.
“He always had a smile on his face,” Kevin Porter said.
Mr. Porter described Mr. Hunter as a “smart kid and a great hockey player” with a “great sense of humour.”
Mr. Hunter was among several Broncos who had also spent time with the more junior Raiders team, along with Conner Lukan, Stephen Wack and Jaxon Joseph, according to a tribute post on the team’s Facebook page.
On its Facebook page, Alberta’s Precision Goalie Institute thanked Mr. Hunter for lending “his grace, skill and professionalism to humbly shoot on our young goalies at camp.”
“Our thoughts are with his teammates, friends and family. Logan was the kind of young man we all would be proud to call a son, brother, cousin, teammate and friend,” the post stated.
Jaxon Joseph, 20, Edmonton
Mr. Joseph was pursuing the dream of playing hockey long held by his dad, Chris, an NHL defenceman who played in the world’s best league on and off for more than a decade.
That lineage was part of the reason the Surrey Eagles asked Jaxon to join their squad during the 2015-2016 season, said Blaine Neufeld, the team’s general manager.
Mr. Joseph arrived in the suburb of Vancouver, where his dad had several NHL stints, and was a refreshing presence when he entered a locker room in a prolonged slump, Mr. Neufeld said.
“No matter the circumstances, he always had a positive look on it, he had a genuine smile that lit up the room and he was always a part of the solution and never part of the problem,” he said.
I don’t want to believe it... I feel like I’m going to turn a corner and you’re going to be there waiting for me with that big goofy smile on your face. I never imagined I would lose my little brother so young... Please hold your families close tonight, you never know when it will be your last. And please please pray for the speedy recovery of the 14 who are injured, and for the families who have lost their loved one. I love you so much Jaxon, our lives have forever changed and I honestly don’t know how I’m going to live without you. Love you Jax ❤️ #hockeyfamily #humboldtstrong #humboldtbroncos
The Broncos website says Mr. Joseph was among the leading scorers in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoffs, playing on a line with captain Logan Schatz, another player who lost his life in the crash.
In a public Instagram post, Mr. Joseph’s older sister Taylor Joseph said she still feels like she is going to turn a corner and find him “waiting for me with that big goofy smile on your face.”
Parker Tobin, 18, of Stony Plain, Alta.
Parker Tobin “was a great kid all around, really smart, really good in school,” Kayden Benson, his best friend, told The Globe. “He had aspirations of going to college and getting a higher education there. He was a really great person, always wanted the best for everybody.”
News of Mr. Tobin’s death was an added twist in the Humboldt tragedy after he was initially reported alive on Sunday, while another teammate, Xavier Labelle, was reported dead by the coroner’s office. Trauma may have played a role in the identification mix-up, which involved two boys of similar ages and builds who had each dyed their hair blonde for the playoffs, a provincial Justice Ministry spokesman explained Monday after the families were notified of the mistake. The ministry added that the coroner’s office would be reviewing its identification practices.
Jacob Leicht, 19, Humboldt, Sask.
He was one of the Humboldt Broncos’ hometown players, shorter than most on the ice, but gritty and fast.
“He was an unreal hockey player,” friend Logan Wylie said. “For being his size, he just had so much determination in hockey. He just had no quit to him.”
The 5-foot-8 left winger was the eldest child in his family: He had a brother and two sisters. Mr. Wylie visited the Leicht home on Saturday to offer his condolences. The community is reeling, he said.
“There are some very dark clouds that hang over Humboldt right now. There are a lot of tears,” Mr. Wylie said as he travelled to Humboldt from Saskatoon for a Sunday evening vigil.
People liked being around Mr. Leicht because he radiated positivity, said Mr. Wylie, who was a year older.
“He could laugh at anything and he had a very contagious laugh. As soon as he started laughing, everybody else broke out into laughter,” he recalled.
This was Mr. Leicht’s first full season in junior hockey and he was proud to be part of his hometown team.
A few weeks ago, the local newspaper asked him what it would mean to bring the championship home to Humboldt.
“You’d never forget that, that’s for sure,” he told the Humboldt Journal. “Especially in your home crowd, it would never be forgotten. That would be amazing.”
Conner Lukan, 21, Slave Lake, Alta.
Mr. Lukan played with the midget St. Albert Raiders and Spruce Grove Saints in the Alberta Junior Hockey League before joining the Broncos last year.
Jason McKee, his former coach in Spruce Woods, described Mr. Lukan as a player who was unassuming but also a fierce competitor.
“All good teams — and I was fortunate to coach that group and they won a championship — and championship teams need to have players like Conner. It wasn’t just what he brought on the ice but off as well.”
He said Mr. Lukan was a “tremendous young man, very respectful of the people around him” and “well aware of his teammates.”
He said Mr. Lukan’s ultimate goal was to get a post-secondary scholarship to play hockey either in Canada or the U.S., a dream that “was taken away from him too soon.“
”One of the best hockey players and an even greater guy off the ice,“ rival player Tyson Chizma wrote on Twitter.
”I’ve known Conner for several years, playing against him throughout the majority of my minor hockey career and trying out for a handful of teams with him. I always looked up to him as a role model.”
Logan Schatz, 20, Allan, Sask.
The team captain had played for the Broncos for just over four years and had served as team captain for the past 2½ years, his father Kelly Schatz said.
His father said his family is seeking solace in one another.
Kelly Schatz said his family is seeking solace in one another.
“It’s hard,″ he said. “I’ve got four other kids and they’re here, which is nice.″
Colin Brochu’s family billeted Logan Schatz starting last summer and they were struck at the easy way he fit into the household, immediately becoming a big-brother figure to their three children, with their 13-year-old son modelling himself after the hockey player.
“The first night he was here, he walked in and he was checking the fridge to see what we had for leftovers,” he said in the family kitchen in Humboldt with his wife, Amanda. “He was comfortable here, which made us comfortable with him here.”
Evan Thomas, 18, Saskatoon
Mr. Thomas was a gifted athlete with a promising future in sports, but what seemed to motivate him most was the camaraderie of his teammates.
“As good an athlete as he was, and as much as he enjoyed the games, I think at times he tolerated the games so he could be with his buddies,” his father, Scott Thomas, said in an interview Sunday from Saskatoon.
Evan Thomas was in his first season with the Humboldt Broncos. He had graduated from high school last June with a 97-per-cent average and a science award, and had often talked about being an orthopedic surgeon. This year, he took a year off school to devote himself to hockey.
His father describes his son as warm and unassuming, with a sense of humour that could crack people up around him and “a smile that lit up a room.”
Mr. Scott and his wife, Laurie, as well as Evan’s 15-year-old sister, Jordyn, are left in mourning.
“He was my best friend, and I was looking forward to being a man with him,” Scott Thomas said. “He had all the qualities a father could be proud of.”
Stephen Wack, 21, St. Albert, Alta.
At roughly 6-foot-6 and weighing nearly 220 pounds, Stephen Wack was an imposing force on the ice and the biggest member of the Humboldt Broncos.
But the talented defenceman also had a passion for drone photography and video editing − something the 21-year-old planned on pursuing in college next year, said his cousin Alicia Wack.
“No matter where in the world he was, he never forgot to call me on my birthday,” she wrote in a memorial post on Facebook. “He wrote letters to Santa with the little children in his billet family.
“On Easter, when he couldn’t be with us because he was with the team, he made sure to FaceTime us all.”
A day after he died in the horrific bus crash, she shared his latest YouTube video as proof of his zest for an adventure. On Twitter, his younger brother Justin asked Hockey Night in Canada to feature the clip during its national broadcast that night.
The stylish compilation blends his travels across North America throughout 2017. He’s seen wakesurfing with friends on one of Saskatchewan’s many lakes; walking the sunny beaches of Los Angeles; target shooting in the bush and staring in a commercial for a Canadian streetwear brand Apollo.
His video ends with a drone capturing a quintessential Canadian summer scene: him surrounded by three friends on a dock as before it fades to black.
With reports from Andrea Woo and The Canadian Press