Carter Woodside looked forward to trying out for Broncos SJHL team next season
Looking back on his time spent with the Humboldt Broncos, Carter Woodside spoke of a tight-knit, unselfish team that resembled a family.
“You could just tell how they worked for each other and played for each other. It was just a very unselfish hockey team that worked hard and followed the coaches’ game plans,” he said.
When he first heard of the team’s fatal bus crash with a semi-truck on April 6, which eventually killed 16 of 29 members on board, he said “it was pretty devastating. I didn’t even know really how that could happen … it seemed surreal almost, you know?”
Woodside is a goalie with the Prince Albert Mintos of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League; he’s also a prospect of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Broncos.
He was called up to join the Junior A club in mid-February this year as an affiliate player to fill a roster spot when the team’s regular goalie, Jacob Wasserman, was called up to join the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League.
Woodside dressed for three games, on Jan. 24, Feb. 13 and Feb. 16, as a backup to Broncos netminder Parker Tobin.
Tobin was one of the victims in the bus crash.
Once more media reports started coming out in the hours and the day after the crash, “I guess it kind of became more of a reality. I was pretty shaken up about it. I cried when I first heard about it for sure,” he said.
Along with those three games this past season, Woodside said he dressed for the Broncos during the team’s 2016-17 regular season.
Despite the short amount of time he spent with the team this year, he said he soon came to see how welcoming and supportive the Broncos were.
“I felt it was pretty brutal what happened to all those kids and their families, especially those guys. That was like the nicest team ever I’ve been a part of; they’re like a family, they’re so close,” he said.
“When I first got there, all those guys were super nice and welcoming to the room, and to the team. They just said pretty much like if I need anything, they’re there to help.”
The 17-year-old also spoke highly of Tobin, underscoring how nice of a person he was and the hockey smarts he seemed to have, adding that the Broncos coaches included Tobin as the starting point for particular play schemes coming out of the team’s defensive zone.
On the team’s Twitter page, a tweet commemorating Tobin describes him as a, “Endless optimist, witty jokester, kind and gentle soul, passionate learner, infectious smile, avid gamer, stand-up guy, generous with his time, an inspiration to his teammates.”
The Broncos’ bus collided with a semi-truck as the team made its way north of Tisdale, Sask., to Nipawin for a playoff game against the Hawks.
Asked about the bus and it’s meaning to a hockey team, Woodside described it as one of the central places where a team connects, grows and builds relationships together.
“Guys connect a lot – share stories, watch movies, play cards … it’s pretty huge, because you’re on the road like for half of the year.
“The fact that happened to them, that’s a freak accident. It could have happened to absolutely any team or anybody. It could have been a car, it could have been anything (besides the semi-truck).”
Woodside also recalled how personable and effective Broncos head coach Darcy Haugan was.
The coach was the goalie’s main point of contact when it came to joining and playing with the Broncos.
“That was a good coach you’d want to play for. That was a player’s coach – the whole coaching staff even – I was really looking forward to trying out for the team next year.”
Woodside explained how Haugan resembled current Mintos head coach Ken Morrison: They seem to know the right times to push a player and the right times to help him along.
“(Morrison and the Mintos’ staff) helped me turn my season around this year; those are the guys who know when to push you harder, and they also know when not to cross the line, including Darcy Haugan … they know how to get the best out of their athletes, but also have fun doing it too, and not just being a hard ass all the time and kind of ruining guys’ perception of hockey.”
Such coaches know how to teach players to have fun “while you’re still working your butt off.”
In the tweet commemorating Haugan on the Broncos’ Twitter feed, the team wrote the coach was a, “Hard worker, gracious, selfless, full of character and integrity, inspirational, supportive, humble, hero, the coach every player wanted and every coach wanted to be.”