WINCHESTER – The bus trip for junior hockey teams across Canada are special ones, according to Winchester Hawks head coach Bob Gould.
“Many lessons to be taught both on and off the ice, but those trips together at that age are just so special and [they] create memories that last a lifetime,” he said.
The Hawks bench boss reflected on the tragic bus accident Fri., April 6, which involved members of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team.
Ten players, two coaches, their radio play-by-play radio announcer, a team statistician and the team’s bus driver lost their lives after the team’s bus was struck by a tractor-trailer.
Gould said the news really hit him hard as someone who played junior hockey and now coaches at that level.
“Words can’t describe the emotions that I went through on Friday night when I heard this terrible news over Twitter and learned about the crash,” he said. “It just hits you every way as a parent first and then a coach.”
Teams, like the Hawks, really strive to have the kids take the bus as it is not only a place for the team to bond, but it is a safer way for the team to travel.
“I’ve heard it [the team bus] described as a sanctuary or sacred place, which is true but it means so much more as we tell all of our kids that it is much safer to ride the bus than individually driving out there.”
Support has poured in not only in Canada, but also around the world as people have been donating money to an online fundraiser that now totals more than $6 million.
Hockey teams across North America, including some National Hockey League squads, have donated large sums of money to support the families involved in the crash.
On Sat., April 7, the Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks showed support by changing their name bars on the back of their jerseys to say “Broncos” instead of their players’ last names.
The community of Humboldt rallied together Sun., April 8 at the Broncos’ arena for a vigil that was broadcasted across the country. Many Canadians, like Gould, tuned in and watched the proceedings.
As a parent of kids who are around the same age as the 10 players who lost their lives, Gould stressed to his sons to appreciate every second that they live.
“[I] watched the vigil last night with my own teenage boys as well, then hugged them afterwards and told them that I loved them. So cherish every moment that you have on this Earth and don’t take anything for granted,” he said.