The 2018-19 Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League season opened on Wednesday night as the Nipawin Hawks defeated the Humboldt Broncos 2-1 in an emotional night at Humboldt’s Elgar Petersen Arena.
All of the scoring happened in the second period. Humboldt’s Michael Clarke scored 2:08 into the second period to give Humboldt a 1-0 lead, but Nipawin’s Cole Beamin and Jeremy Bisson tallied in the final six minutes of the middle frame to give the Hawks a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Declan Hobbes stopped 39 shots for the Hawks in the victory. Dane Dow came up with 24 saves in the loss.
The game was the first in the regular season for the Broncos since April 6, when 16 people aboard the Broncos team bus were killed when the bus was struck by a semi-trailer unit. The 13 other people aboard the bus were injured.
Among those killed were the Broncos head coach and general manager Darcy Haugan, who played for Estevan Bruins in 1995-96, who also served as an assistant coach with the team from 2000 to 2003. He was also an interim co-coach and GM for the Bruins in 2003.
Broncos assistant coach Mark Cross, who played in Estevan from 2008-2011, also died in the crash.
Only two players who played with the Broncos Wednesday night were on last year’s team: forwards Derek Patter and Brayden Camrud.
There were ceremonies held before the game, and after the game, 29 banners were unveilled in honour of those who were on the bus. The numbers of the players who were on the bus will never be worn again, although Patter, Camrud and Tyler Smith, who could return later this season, will get to wear their numbers from last season as long as they are with Humboldt.
Two defencemen with southeast Saskatchewan connections are playing for the Broncos this year. Kyle Sargent, a Carlyle product who played minor hockey in Estevan, was selected by the Broncos in a dispersal draft in June. Sargent spent last season with the Yorkton Terriers.
Mark Edmands, who spent the previous two years with Estevan, was transferred to Humboldt last week to fulfill the Bruins commitment to the Broncos in the SJHL dispersal draft.