PROFILES, TIMELINE AND A PLACE OF GRACE
THE CRASH TOOK MORE THAN 15 LIVES. IT ROBBED COMMUNITIES OF MENTORS, VOLUNTEERS AND STARS OF THE FUTURE
Tyler Bieber Broadcaster, 29
This was Tyler Bieber’s first season doing play-by-play for the Humboldt Broncos and he often travelled with the team.
“He would get up at 5:30 every morning and go to work, but his day didn’t stop there,” his mother Marilyn Hay said.
“He would volunteer with the high school kids — teaching them basketball, football, he taught the girls flag football — he had a real passion for that.”
Bieber, who had just turned 29, was also vice president of the Humboldt touch football league, involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters as a mentor and was set to start coaching at a football academy in Saskatoon.
“Tyler was rarely at home between running from work to volunteer jobs,” his mother remembers. “My son was one amazing man.”
He was initially worried the work with the Broncos would interfere with the time he spent coaching, but agreed after they figured out a way to work around his busy schedule.
Bieber spent some time living in Regina, but returned to his hometown in April 2015 after receiving a job offer at the local radio station, Bolt FM. “He definitely had a natural talent,” said Steven Wilson, a co-worker at Bolt FM. “He was just passionate about sports.”
Darcy Haugan Head coach
The Humboldt Broncos were a family business for Darcy Haugan. He was into his third year as head coach and general manager, and his wife Christina was the team’s office manager.
Steven Wilson, a play-by-play announcer in Weyburn, Sask., called Haugan “the classiest guy” in the league. The last time he saw Haugan, the coach was playing video games in his office with one of his two young sons.
“He was very dedicated to his family and at the same time he was a hockey guy.”
Haugan, a native of Peace River, Alta., played his minor hockey in northern Alberta and junior hockey in the Alberta Junior Hockey League for the Fort Saskatchewan Traders and then Bonnyville Pontiacs, and, finally in the SJHL with the Estevan Bruins.
Haugan played professionally in Sweden before returning home to begin coaching.
He had spent 12 seasons leading the North Peace Navigators of the Northwest Junior Hockey League when the Broncos job came up.
“I have to admit I was very content, very comfortable where I was,” Haugan said. “But … when they called back to offer me the job there was a bit of a lump in my stomach.”
In 2015, Haugan earned Hockey Alberta’s prestigious Meritorious Award for contribution to the game of hockey.
Adam Herold Defenceman, 16
At 16, Adam Herold was the youngest member of the Humboldt Broncos, and also the newest. Up until a few weeks ago, Herold was captain of the Regina Pat Canadians, but when the Regina team’s season wrapped up, Herold was sent to join the Broncos for their playoff round.
“Adam was the most selfless guy on the team,” said forward Matt Culling. “That’s why he was our captain. He always put the team first no matter what.”
Herold, a Montmartre-born defenceman, would have turned 17 on Thursday.
He helped the Pat Canadians win the 201617 league title, before assuming the captaincy for 2017-18 — a season in which Regina won the prestigious Mac’s midget tournament in Calgary.
“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,” team manager John Smith said.
Before joining the Pat Canadians, Herold spent two seasons with the bantam AA Prairie Storm, a team that draws its players from Balgonie, Pilot Butte, White City, Emerald Park and surrounding area.
Mark Cross Assistant coach
Broncos assistant coach Mark Cross, a native of Strasbourg, Sask., was “passionate about the game” — and inspired that same passion in the kids he mentored.
He played for the midget AA Lumsden-Bethune Lions. Years later, he coached the same team in the 2016-17 season, before moving on to Humboldt.
Lions head coach Scott Frizzell remembers him as a “great leader.”
“I had approached him because he’s a hometown boy, and I asked him if he would give me a hand.”
Cross jumped at the opportunity to give back. The kids loved him, especially since he was still playing serious hockey at the senior level.
Cross had played for the Estevan Bruins. He then pursued a kinesiology degree at York University, where he played for five years for the U Sports team there. But he soon came back to Saskatchewan, and Frizzell knew he needed him back on the team.
“He was very loved wherever he went.” Frizzell said he always tries to instil life lessons into his players and build them into “fine young men.” With Cross, whom he calls a friend, he feels like his efforts were more than successful.
“I can’t say enough about him.”
Brody Hinz Volunteer statistician, 18
Humboldt Broncos president Kevin Garinger remembers the team’s volunteer statistician, Brody Hinz, as an “amazing young man” who adored the hockey club.
“He had an amazing mind for stats and he was a huge asset to the coaching staff,” Garinger said, noting that Hinz travelled with the Junior A hockey team on a regular basis.
“That just speaks volumes to who this young man is,” the club president said. “Anything the coaching staff needed, he was willing to help … If that was in his capacity to do, he would do it. He gave his heart and soul to the organization.”
The 18-year-old had only recently started tallying the Broncos’ numbers for Humboldt radio station CHBO. One company statement described Hinz as an intern still in high school.
“Brody had recently joined our Golden West family, mentored by Tyler and the Bolt FM team,” Lyndon Friesen, president of Golden West Radio, said in a statement posted on the station’s website.
The night of the crash marked a double tragedy for the family. A relative said on Facebook that another family member lost a baby boy in Humboldt hospital shortly after he was born.
Glen Doerksen Bus driver
Glen Doerksen was behind the wheel of the Humboldt Broncos bus on Friday, a family man remembered as always being quick to smile and tell a story during drives across the province.
“In talking to him, he spoke at length of his time in rinks with his own family and now how much he enjoyed being able to take and watch other teams from minor, to senior to SJHL, to their hockey games,” the Kinistino Tigers wrote of Doersken, who drove their team to and from playoff games.
Trips for the Tigers to Foam Lake and Allan were on horrible highways due to winter storms, the Tigers wrote, and they “got on that bus and trusted him with our lives and both times he got us home safely.”
“Tragically (on Friday) he and many others didn’t make it home and our hearts are broken for your families and friends including Charlie and the staff at Charlie’s Charters.
“We will never forget the smile on your face as we left Allan after winning the championship and got you to give ‘two honks for the Cup,’ ” the Tigers wrote.
“Tonight Glen, we give two honks for you. Rest easy Sir.”
Logan Boulet Defenceman, 21
Logan Boulet signed an organ donor card upon turning 21, just weeks ago. He had made it known to his family that this was his wish.
Now, the Humboldt Broncos defenceman from Lethbridge could help six people live on through his organ donations.
“There have been matches made for all vital organs, including a patient set to receive his heart and lungs,” Neil Langevin, a friend of the Boulet family, posted on social media. “All counted, six people will receive the gift of life from Logan.”
“These actions alone give voice to the selfless and benevolent nature Logan possessed in life for others. He is a great hero and one of the nicest people you would have been lucky enough to meet.”
A former teammate remembers the strapping defenceman as a shy teen with a big heart. “He was very caring, that’s the best way to describe him,” said Tyson Brouwer, who grew up with Boulet in Lethbridge and went on to play with him.
Boulet was in his third season with the Broncos after joining the team in 2016.
Dante Raposo, a former Bronco, remembers Boulet as a motivational “vet” on the team who was always willing to lend a helping hand. “He never treated me like a rookie.”
I HAVE NO WORDS TO DESCRIBE WHAT I’M FEELING. BEST FRIENDS, TEAMMATES, ALLIES, BROTHERS. WE’VE BEEN THROUGH SO MUCH TOGETHER. WE HAD A SPECIAL BOND FROM THE DAY YOU WERE BORN. — ISAAC LABELLE, BROTHER OF VICTIM XAVIER LABELLE
THERE HAVE BEEN MATCHES MADE FOR ALL VITAL ORGANS, INCLUDING A PATIENT SET TO RECEIVE HIS HEART AND LUNGS. ALL COUNTED, SIX PEOPLE WILL RECEIVE THE GIFT OF LIFE FROM LOGAN. — NEIL LANGEVIN, FRIEND OF CRASH VICTIM LOGAN BOULET
Jaxon Joseph Centre, 20
The son of former NHL player Chris Joseph, Jaxon Joseph was among the leading scorers in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoffs, playing on a line with Logan Schatz, who also lost his life in the crash.
A native of Edmonton, Joseph was a member of the Surrey Eagles of the British Columbia Hockey League during the 2015-2016 season. He joined the Melfort Mustangs the following year before becoming a Bronco.
Thomas Davis, a former teammate and neighbour, played midget hockey with him. “He was a big, funny guy who was always lighthearted in the dressing room. Guys used to throw shots at him because the year before he played house league, but he never let it get to him,” said Davis.
Joseph was the Broncos’ leading playoff scorer with seven goals and five assists in nine games.
Joseph’s father, Chris, played for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Vancouver Canucks and the Philadelphia Flyers. He is now a firefighter in Edmonton.
“It’s every parent’s nightmare — my brother’s and his wife’s whole world revolved around their kids,” said Mike Joseph, Joseph’s uncle. “It has been a tough day for the Joseph family.”
Logan Schatz Team captain, 20
The native of Allan, Sask., played centre and was named the league’s player of the month in February after earning points in eight of nine games.
Schatz was one of the league’s “best-kept secrets in scouting circles” and a top-three pre-season favourite to win the league scoring title last season.
That plan was derailed by a “freak elbow injury” last year, but the left-shooting centre recovered and scored 18 goals in the first 48 games of the 2017-18 season, the league said in a profile. He played for the Broncos for just over four years, and had served as team captain for the past two and a half.
Schatz had an opportunity to play in the Western Hockey League but chose to remain in the Saskatchewan league because of the possibility of playing for a U.S. college team.
“In a perfect world you’d love to have a scholarship off your plate at this time of year, but getting frustrated about it would only hurt the team,” Schatz is quoted as saying in the profile.
“I’ve talked about it with my coaches a lot, I’m not going to let it get in the way of our team’s success. We’re having a great year and so am I and I’m confident the rest will take care of itself.”
Xavier Labelle Defenceman, 18
Labelle, who was born in Saskatoon, was in his second year playing for the Humboldt Broncos. He was a hard-working hockey player who also excelled as a piano player and a student.
“I have no words to describe what I’m feeling. Best friends, teammates, allies, brothers,” wrote his brother Isaac in an Instagram post Saturday.
“We’ve been through so much together. We had a special bond from the day you were born. I’m going to miss you, bro. I’ll always remember you and who you were will influence me for the rest of my life.”
The six-foot-two defenceman played 83 games for the Contacts in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League over two seasons before moving on to the Broncos.
Labelle scored one goal and added an assist in nine playoff games this season.
In 41 regular season games, he had three goals and nine points and racked up 14 penalty minutes.
In 57 games last season for the Broncos, Labelle scored one goal, added 10 assists and had 59 penalty minutes.
“He’s very, very respectful and he worked very hard,” said Jim McIntyre, governor of the Saskatoon Contacts.
Evan Thomas Right winger, 18
The Thomas home in Saskatoon has become a place for young people to shed tears for a Humboldt Broncos player with a “quiet confidence” and a bright academic future.
“Eight of them showed up on our doorstep last night … and just sat there and cried with us,” said Scott Thomas, father of Evan Thomas. “Nobody really said anything. We just all cried together.”
Those were kids who’d known Evan since kindergarten.
Evan had previously played Midget AAA hockey in Moose Jaw, before joining the Humboldt Broncos. His parents thought he might have a future in the WHL. He was drafted by the Kootenay Ice and just missed making it onto their roster, Scott said.
He also played baseball at a national level. “I think he just tolerated the sport so he could be with his teammates,” said Scott. “I think that’s the kind of guy he was. He just loved the community of players.”
And they loved him back. Scott said Evan was famous for calm, sincere demeanour, but above all for his “awesome sense of humour.”
Evan excelled at high school and had been contemplating a career as an orthopedic surgeon. “He loved to watch Grey’s Anatomy,” said Scott, “just to watch the surgery.”
Jacob Leicht Left winger, 19
Last month, when the Broncos made the playoffs, the Humboldt Journal interviewed Leicht and asked what would it mean to bring the championship home to Humboldt.
“You’d never forget that, that’s for sure. We still talk about when the Broncos won the RBC in 2003, which is 15 years ago,” Leicht was quoted saying. “That would be amazing.”
Leicht, who is from Humboldt, played nine games in the playoffs, scoring once.
“My heart is broken. Your laughter was so contagious and you had a smile that lit up any room. I wish we had more time ... it seems so unfair,” said Cassidy Tolley in a Facebook post made Saturday.
“You weren’t just family, you were genuinely one of my favourite people and someone I could always count on at all hours of the day and night.”
Tanya Leicht shared the post, along with a personal message.
“Words fail when I wish to express the sadness that I carry in my heart. Heaven gained a beautiful soul today. I am deeply saddened by the news of your loss. I pray that God will grant you the strength. I will keep your family in my prayers during this difficult time. You all will be missed, rest in peace.”
Stephen Wack Defenceman, 21
As one of the songs playing in the background puts it, “the feeling of being alive, while we’re still young” is front and centre in the videos Stephen Wack made for his YouTube channel.
On Sunday, his little brother Justin posted a link to one of them on Twitter, a video recap of what would be the 21-year-old’s final year, along with a plea to Hockey Night In Canada to run it in Stephen’s honour.
Although he was known among friends for the creativity he brought to his videos, Wack also “absolutely lived and breathed hockey,” as his cousin Alicia Wack told the press.
Raised in St. Albert, the Broncos defenceman had been with the team since 2016 after a season with the Whitecourt Wolverines.
Matthew Gervais, who played with him on the Wolverines, said he first met Wack on the kind of bus trip the Broncos had been on last week.
He was still trying to come to grips with what happened.
“Everything just flipped upside down, just like that,” said Gervais of the accident.
“Everybody loved him. He was capping off his junior career within a week or two, potentially. He had his whole life ahead of him.”
Conner Lukan Forward, 21
The 21-year-old forward from Slave Lake who joined the team this season after spending three with the Spruce Grove Saints in the Alberta Junior Hockey League was one of seven players on the team with Alberta roots.
“On the ice he was one of the most ferocious competitors you’ll find and he was a tremendous teammate … his courage was through the roof,” former Saints coach Jason McKee said.
“He really worked at playing in the hard areas of the ice. Every team needs guys like that.”
McKee coached Lukan in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons where the Slave Lake youngster played centre and left wing.
Lukan was assistant captain in his final year with the Saints.
He was traded to the Broncos at the end of last year for Chris Van Os-Shaw and a development fee.
The Saints announced Lukan’s death on Twitter, along with four other alumni: Stephen Wack, Jaxon Joseph and Logan Hunter.
“Everybody who lost someone in this, it’s tough,” McKee said.
“There are no words right now. We just need to stay together.”
Logan Hunter Right winger, 18
Logan Hunter, an 18-year-old from St. Albert, Alta., is being remembered for his onice professionalism and sunny nature.
“He always had a smile on his face,” said Kevin Porter, president of the St. Albert Raiders Hockey Club, who described Hunter as a “smart kid and a great hockey player” with a great sense of humour.
The right-winger began his Junior A career with the Humboldt Broncos in March 2017. He previously played for the St. Albert Raiders in Midget AAA and St. Albert Blues Midget AA.
Four Broncos players are Raiders’ alumni, according to the club’s Facebook page.
Porter, whose son grew up playing hockey with Hunter, said the crash is “shocking and devastating for all the families involved.”
The Precision Goalie Institute wrote on Facebook: “Today we mournfully send our thoughts to everyone in the Humboldt Broncos family. Last summer, a wonderful young man named Logan Hunter lent us 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. #prayforhumboldt.”