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GiveLife.ca

    

PRINT EDITION
Fifteen lives lost in Saskatchewan: Their names, faces and stories
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The 15 people killed in a crash involving a junior hockey team bus in rural Saskatchewan included many young players, their coach, 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
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By JANA G. PRUDEN, CARRIE TAIT, MIKE HAGER, RENATA D'ALIESIO, INGRID PERITZ, KELLY CRYDERMAN AND DAKSHANA BASCARAMURTY
  
  

Email this article Print this article
Monday, April 9, 2018 – Page A10

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.

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.

Assistant coach Chris Beaudry, who was driving his own vehicle to the game the night of the crash, described Mr. Cross as one of the happiest people he's ever met.

Mr. Cross played hockey in Strasbourg, before joining the Broncos' coaching staff.

"His first game, we found a tin of mints and ever since then it's been alternating back and forth, buying mints for each other and sharing it as a joke. We'd end up gong through a whole tin every game, Mr. Beaudry said.

"He was a beautiful guy to be around.

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."

BRODY HINZ, 18, HUMBOLDT

"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-byplay 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 postseason 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 2017-18 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 leaves his mom, dad and an older sister.

DARCY HAUGAN, 42, HUMBOLDT

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, his sister, Deborah Carpenter, said .

"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 righthanded 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 2015-16 season, the team's general manager, Blaine Neufeld, said .

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.

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.

XAVIER LABELLE, 18, SASKATOON

As a hockey player, Mr. Labelle was a tough defenceman and a fierce competitor, who had been on skates from the time he was two years old and learned to skate backward before he could carry a stick, as was the rule in their family. Off the ice, he was compassionate and kind, a young man who cared deeply for his friends and family, spoke fluent French, and could pull up a bench at the piano and perform a song like Clementi's Sonata in D Major with elegance and grace.

"He was one of the most caring and compassionate people that I knew. He cared about everybody," said Isaac Labelle, who grew up playing alongside his brother in both piano and hockey. The two had played on the same hockey teams throughout their lives, until Isaac was traded from the Broncos earlier this season.

Isaac Labelle said his brother was "a happy kid," who could light up a room with his smile, and was loved by everyone who knew him.

JACOB LEICHT, 19, HUMBOLDT

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.

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 Grove, 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 postsecondary scholarship to play hockey either in Canada or the United States, a dream that "was taken away from him too soon."

LOGAN SCHATZ, 20, ALLAN, SASK.

The team captain had played for the Broncos for slightly more than four years and had served as team captain for the past 2 1/2 years, his father Kelly Schatz said.

His father 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 and Amanda Brochu billeted Logan Schatz starting last summer and were struck at the easy way he fit into their family, immediately becoming a bigbrother 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," Colin Brochu said in the family kitchen in Humboldt.

"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-percent 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."

"He was my best friend, and I was looking forward to being a man with him,"said Mr. Thomas, who is also president of the board of the Saskatoon Blazers Midget AAA Hockey Club.

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, his cousin Alicia Wack said .

"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."

Associated Graphic

Members of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team pose for a photo posted to the team's Twitter feed, @HumboldtBroncos, on March 24, following a playoff win over the Melfort Mustangs.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Correction

Due to an incorrect news release issued by the Saskatchewan coroner's office, Xavier Labelle was incorrectly identified on Monday as one of the Humboldt Broncos who died in Friday's bus and truck crash.


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