St. Albert Humboldt Broncos Memorial Tournament returns for year four

Photo credit:simply_cecily_rose/Instagram
Aleena Aksenchuk
1 year ago
The St. Albert Humboldt Broncos Memorial Tournament returned to Troy Murray Arena in St. Albert, AB on Friday for its fourth year.
The memorial tournament runs July 7th to 9th and honours four of the 16 young men who lost their lives on April 6th, 2018, in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash. The tournament holds two days of round-robin play, followed by playoffs on Sunday. The four boys honoured and remembered are Logan Hunter, Jaxon Joseph, Conner Lukan, and Stephan Wack, who all grew up playing minor hockey in St. Albert.
“Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations and this weekend is a perfect example of a beautiful destination,” said Tyler Smith, one of the Humboldt Broncos players that survived the crash.
“It’s a reminder of these four individuals’ incredible impact, and I think that is exactly why we continue to do this.”
For most, hockey is seen as a game, a passion, and something to enjoy with friends and family, but sometimes hockey is far more than just a game. For these players, this weekend is a prime example of that.
“I could not agree more this tournament is more than just a few hockey games over the weekend, it’s playing a sport we love and to representing Joey, Hunts, Luks and Wacker,” said Team Wack’s captain Curtis Peck.
“It’s a time for all of us from around the world to be able to reflect, grieve, share some laughs and maybe shed the odd tear. When you walk into the rink or a dressing room or any of the outside activities it is never quiet. The constant banter between the players and families is what it’s all about.”
The tournament, co-organized by Jaedon Leslie and Josh Dechaine, hosts 100 players from all over Alberta, full of family and friends of the four boys who split off to represent their loved ones on one of four teams.
“As much as it’s about having fun and playing hockey, it is truly all about being able to emphasize what all four of those amazing individuals brought to every single group of people that they were able to be with,” said Smith, who will be wearing the ‘C’ for Team Lukan.
“Everyones that participates in this weekend is fully able to embrace the fact that we’re doing this for them, I think that anyone you talk to, they don’t care if they win, if they lose, if they score a goal. It’s just loving doing this and being a part of it, it instantly attaches you back to those four people.”
Opening ceremonies kicked off Friday with a speech from Smith and Alan Wack, Stephan Wack’s father, on behalf of all four families. He reminded and encouraged the players and families to enjoy the next few days and share stories with one another.
The ceremonies also hosted a special guest, Cecily Eklund, an incredible 10-year-old girl battling cancer who has become an advocate for childhood cancer awareness and a philanthropist. She is also known for her friendship with Edmonton Oilers forward Evander Kane.
Eklund dropped the first puck to start game one between Peck of Team Wack and Canadian sportscaster Ron MacLean of Team Lukan.
Dechaine and Leslie have worked tirelessly to create a community that has become bigger and more meaningful than could ever be described. It’s become a time for friends to come together to remember their loved ones, a time for family to spend time with the boys who played such significant roles in each one of their sons’ lives, and a time for everyone to heal.
“This is a tournament I wish we never had to play due to the circumstances,” said Peck.
“However, it brings a community together every year and reminds everyone involved how much of an impact each one of the boys had on our lives. Being able to play for Stephen’s team is an honour there’s no better way to describe it than rewarding… I get to see old faces and pick up conversations as if they happened yesterday.”
A few professional players will also participate in the tournament over the weekend. Boston Bruins prospect Ian Mitchell is Team Hunter’s captain while free agent defenceman Nick Holden joins Mitchell on Team Hunter. Landon Bow, who is one of the netminders on Team Joseph, with other pro hockey players in free agent Noah Gregor, Dallas Stars goalie Matt Murray, and Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Trey Fix-Wolanksky are playing on Team Lukan. Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brandon Hagel plays on Team Wack.
Games continue throughout the weekend.

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