THE BLOG
04/18/2018 14:17 EDT | Updated 04/19/2018 14:42 EDT

Saskatchewan's Tight-Knit Hockey Culture Is Why I'm Proud To Call It Home

For me, the Humboldt Broncos tragedy hits close to home in more ways than one.

For me, the Humboldt Broncos tragedy hits close to home in more ways than one. Physically and emotionally.

Growing up less than an hour away from Humboldt, I am proud to call Saskatchewan my home. I can't imagine trying to count the number of hours I have logged travelling down the frigid prairie roads. By bus or by car, the only thing on my mind was lacing up the skates that day. Not once does it cross your mind that something so tragic could happen.

Matt Smith / Reuters
Community members arrive at the Elgar Petersen Arena for a vigil for the Humboldt Broncos in Humboldt, Sask., on April 8, 2018.

Growing up in Saskatchewan, I grew up appreciating the simple lifestyle we characterize. Having lived in so many different cities throughout my career, it made me quickly realize how special of a place Saskatchewan is. It's the friendly wave from the oncoming driver. It's the warm smile and greeting when you pass a stranger on the street. It's the welcome home from the community after returning from a season.

It's the passion that fuels the province to wear green on every Roughrider's game day. It's the kind hearts that rally behind a community during a tragedy. It's the generosity of people putting others before themselves that makes this province what it is.

It doesn't matter if you're fortunate enough to play professionally, it's the bonds you create and the experience you take away from the game.

There's so many great qualities you can take away from the game of hockey, or any sport for that matter. It doesn't matter if you're fortunate enough to play professionally, it's the bonds you create and the experience you take away from the game.

Growing up in such a small town forced me to travel far distances just to make a practice, but this allowed me to create lifelong friendships with people I never would have met otherwise. Hockey has always been my escape. No matter what is going on in the world around me, you get to the rink and all the distractions are left at the door. It's your time to shift your thoughts away from all the ups and downs. Usually it's not the hockey itself that takes our mind off the stress of life, but the people inside the dressing room.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Hockey sticks to remember members of the Humboldt are seen standing in a snowbank along a stretch of highway 6 in Saskatchewan on April, 13, 2018.

It's hard to describe the atmosphere in the dressing room to someone who has never experienced it. It's crazy how quickly a bond can form between 20 plus strangers. Instantly you become a family with a strong safety net behind you, knowing you can fall back on. That safety net is created through a group of individuals who put their teammates ahead of themselves and their own agendas on the back burner.

With buses being an important means of transportation, it's easy to imagine how this could have happened to any of us. There's nothing we can do now to change what happened the evening of April 6, 2018, but the way the world has rallied around those affected by this tragedy has truly been uplifting.

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Looking at the photographs of the individuals, hearing their stories and seeing the way others talk about all those affected has left me suffering in heartbreak. All that I hope is that the love and support the entire world is sending can carry and support these men and women through this very difficult time.

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