The Humboldt Broncos will reach the playoffs less than a year after a crash that killed 16 people and shocked an entire nation.
Sports Illustrated reported Wednesday that the Broncos have secured a playoff berth.
The Broncos finished sixth in the 12-team Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League after rebuilding their roster from scratch this season. Two players from last season returned for the 2018-19 campaign.
The Humboldt Broncos have qualified for the playoffs, one year after the tragic bus crash https://t.co/iWDRuPEfjZ
— SI NHL (@SI_NHL) March 6, 2019
Humboldt Broncos Reach Playoffs for Third Straight Year
This year’s playoff berth marks the third consecutive for the Broncos, who last won the league in 2011-12.
Humboldt’s latest trip to the post-season comes during a big season of rebuilding and healing. In addition to the 10 players lost in the crash last year, another 13 were hurt.
Also among the fallen were two coaches, a statistician, broadcaster, bus driver and athletic therapist.
The Broncos were en route to Game 5 of a best-of-seven series with the Nipawin Hawks in the SJHL semifinals when their bus collided with a semi-truck on April 6, 2018.
The crash happened at the intersection of Highway 35 and Highway 335 in Armley, between Nipawin and Tisdale in central Saskatchewan.
The Broncos were trailing the Hawks 3-1 in that series. The Hawks ended up moving on to face the Estevan Bruins in the league final.
The Broncos and Bruins will face off in the first round of the 2019 playoffs starting on March 15, 2019.
Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, 29, of Calgary was arrested three months after the crash. He was charged with 16 counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and 13 counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm.
Sidhu has since pleaded guilty to all charges. He will be sentenced on March 22, 2019.
After the crash, many hockey fans across Canada rallied around the Broncos by displaying stickers with the team’s logo, leaving sticks on their doorsteps and donating to a GoFundMe page that raised more than $15 million.
Tributes also poured in from NHL teams and other organizations.
The 2018-19 SJHL regular season ended Tuesday night. The Broncos went 35-19-4, good for 74 points.
Broncos Overcome Other Adversity
The two returning Broncos players, centremen Brayden Camrud and Derek Patter, came back after recovering from injuries sustained in the crash. Camrud suffered a severe concussion and lost feeling in his left arm, and Patter still deals with a leg injury.
Camrud has scored 27 goals and 28 assists this year. Patter has posted 10 goals and 11 assists this season.
Other bus crash survivors have gone into coaching, sledge hockey, and university hockey. Several of them still deal with lingering emotional issues stemming from the crash.
The team also dealt with some mid-season turnover, as head coach Nathan Oystrick – a former NHL defenceman – stepped down in December.
The Broncos’ first season since last year’s tragedy did see many positives despite the trying circumstances. Humboldt punching their playoff tickets comes just days after Morgan Gobeil, the last survivor in hospital, was released after 333 days.
The Humboldt players and staff who were lost will be in our memories forever. They are an inspiration to us all.