Service for Humboldt Bron­cos brings back pow­er­ful mem­o­ries for Bon­av­ista hockey com­mu­nity

Emo­tional night for fam­ily of Dean Lit­tle

The Packet (Clarenville) - - Sports - BY JONATHAN PAR­SONS

The hockey com­mu­nity in Bon­av­ista knows grief all too well.

And a cer­e­mony at Cabot Sta­dium on Thurs­day, April 12, to pay trib­ute to 16 mem­bers of the Humboldt Bron­cos Ju­nior hockey team who died in a bus crash in Saskatchewan last week, was es­pe­cially poignant.

At one end of the rink was a heart fash­ioned from lights with 16 sticks in the cen­tre.

Fam­ily mem­bers of Dean Lit­tle couldn’t hold in their emo­tions in as Mi­nor Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Leigh Anne Ry­der drew the crowd’s at­ten­tion to the other end of the rink where, in the far cor­ner, the soli­tary light from Dean’s tro­phy case shines brightly in the room bear­ing his name.

Lit­tle was a mem­ber of the Bon­av­ista pee­wee team. He died trag­i­cally while at­tend­ing a tour­na­ment 25 years ago. He was just 12 years old.

Ev­ery hockey sea­son he is re­mem­bered in a me­mo­rial tour­na­ment in his home­town, or­ga­nized by his fam­ily, and his mem­ory lives on within the mi­nor hockey or­ga­ni­za­tion. Mem­bers of the Bon­av­ista pee­wee team all wear the num­ber three on their jer­seys and no player wears the “C” be­cause Dean is still con­sid­ered their cap­tain.

Ry­der says this town knows how tough it is to raise a ban­ner for a de­ceased player, and the thought of rais­ing 16 ban­ners hurts her soul.

How­ever, see­ing the sup­port from young hockey play­ers from around the coun­try lifts her heart, she said.

Thurs­day night in Bon­av­ista, as it was in many hockey rinks across the coun­try this evening, peo­ple wore hockey jer­seys and clutched lights and glow sticks, and held Bron­cos signs, as the hockey com­mu­nity na­tion­wide showed paid trib­ute to the Bron­cos.

Dean Lit­tle’s sisters, Gina Lit­tle and Colleen Tinkham, told The Packet they know the sup­port of the lo­cal hockey com­mu­nity first hand in times like th­ese.

“All (th­ese types of things are) due to the spirit of the hockey com­mu­nity that keeps this go­ing,” said Colleen of how the com­mu­nity has never for­got­ten her brother.

“Our as­so­ci­a­tion is un­be­liev­able, the sup­port and re­spect,” added Gina.

Ry­der con­cluded the cer­e­mony tonight by say­ing how hockey com­mu­ni­ties around the coun­try, like Bon­av­ista, can lend sup­port at times like this.

“We’re Bon­av­ista-Strong, and it’s com­mu­ni­ties like ours that will help keep Hum­boldtStrong,” she said.

JONATHAN PAR­SONS PHOTO

Hockey play­ers of all ages took to the ice-level to stand around the heart shaped trib­ute for Humboldt.

JONATHAN PAR­SONS PHOTO

Mi­nor hockey play­ers in the stands sup­port­ing the Bron­cos. For more pho­tos, go to www. thep­acket.ca.

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