Pachal, Evan Thomas both played Midget AAA hockey for the Moose Jaw Generals
As part of the process to honour and remember the 16 victims of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash earlier this month, Prince Albert Raiders defenceman Brayden Pachal played in a tribute game last week Thursday in Moose Jaw to honour forward Evan Thomas.
Thomas was one of the 16 Broncos team members killed in the crash on April 6.
He and Pachal both played their Midget AAA hockey with the Moose Jaw Generals, though they didn’t play on the team at the same time.
Former Generals players Ahmed Ally and Chantz Petruic were close with Thomas and played alongside him. The pair organized Thursday’s tribute game at the city’s Mosaic Place.
“A lot of credit to Ahmed and Chantz Petruic for setting something like that up … it was something special to be a part of, and it was a lot of fun seeing other players that played on the Generals,” Pachal said.
The roster for the commemorative game showed other Western Hockey League players like the Moose Jaw Warriors’ Branden Klatt and the Regina Pats’ Jake Leschyshyn.
Though he didn’t play on the same team as Thomas, Pachal said he got to know him by playing against him during the 2014-15 Midget AAA season and alongside him at two different training camps they attended together.
“It was shocking. It took the whole hockey community and the whole world by surprise,” he said of the Broncos’ bus crash.
“It really hit close to home for anyone that played junior hockey or hockey for that matter – the amount of hours you spend on the bus. It really hit home for us.”
Pachal described Thomas as, “a guy that always had a smile on his face, was always fun to be around. He was just an all-around good guy.”
Another of the Broncos’ victims was Raiders prospect Adam Herold, a defenceman that the team’s coaches paired with Pachal and the other defencemen on the team, when he was called up to play three games this past WHL regular season.
“A lot of the Raiders got together, and we attended (Adam’s) funeral. So I think just being with each other and talking about it in our group chat or over the phone really helped with the healing process,” Pachal said.
“For a guy being there for a short period of time, he made a real big impact on the room. Everyone respected him and he always brought a smile on his face. It was just a joy to be around him.”
Despite the tragedy and the shock of the crash, Pachal said it has been amazing to see how the hockey community in Saskatchewan, Canada and the world has rallied around the Humboldt community and the people affected by the crash.