All eyes will be on the Elgar Petersen Arena Wednesday as the 50th season of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League begins with the most anticipated game in league history
In a contest that will be broadcast nationally on TSN and CTV Saskatchewan at 6:30 p.m., the Humboldt Broncos will return to action for the first time since April’s bus accident that took the lives of 16 people associated with the team.
Their opponents will be the defending league champion Nipawin Hawks, who were up 3-1 in their semifinal series with the Broncos when the accident occurred.
“Is it going to be emotional? Yeah, 100 percent,” Broncos head coach and general manager Nathan Oystrick said to the media Tuesday. “Are there going to be different things going through my head? Yeah, probably.
“But at the end of the day, I’m going to coach hockey and help these players become better players and better people. I’m hoping that once the puck drops, our guys are focused and ready to play hockey.”
The team announced earlier this week that returning players Brayden Camrud and Derek Patter will serves as assistant captains this season, along with former Prince Albert Raiders draft pick Michael Clarke, who was acquired from the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Calgary Canucks in the off-season.
No one will wear the ‘C’ this year in honour of former Broncos’ captain Logan Schatz, who lost his life in April’s accident.
“It was brought up to me, probably, two days after I was hired,” Oystrick said.
“The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. It’s a way for us to honour Logan. He didn’t get to finish the job.”
Defenceman Chase Felguerias, a one-time draft pick of the Raiders, and former Prince Albert Mintos forward Mitchell Griolami are also on the Broncos roster.