Tyler Smith of the Humboldt Broncos is shown in a handout photo.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Handout/Tyler Smith

‘We play for them:’ Bronco to return to ice for his first game since bus crash

One of the Humboldt Broncos in a bus crash last April will be back on the ice with his team for the first time this weekend.

Humboldt Bronco player Tyler Smith had a broken collarbone, a broken shoulder blade and nerve damage down his left arm.

He was on the junior hockey team’s bus when it collided with a semi-trailer at a Saskatchewan intersection on the way to a playoff game. Sixteen people died.

Smith, now 20, was one of the 13 players who were hurt.

He has mostly recovered — other than some nerve damage in his left hand and wrist — and he plans to play Friday in his first game with the Broncos since the crash.

“I’m really excited, but at the end of the day I’m still pretty nervous,” Smith told The Canadian Press. “It’ll be OK after the first couple shifts but that first shift is going to be a lot of emotions. Even before the game it’s going to be pretty emotional.

“We play for them is a really true statement … I just really want to play for them.”

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound forward from Leduc, Alta., said he had juggled the idea of playing for the team again as he recovered from his injuries.

“I just want to get back to it,” he said. “A couple of weeks before I came, I decided to get up and go.”

He started practising with this year’s team, which includes Brayden Camrud and Derek Patter. They were the only two players who were involved in the crash who are back on the Broncos roster this season.

Related: Humboldt Broncos emerge from tragedy

Related: All of Canada cheering for Humboldt Broncos as they return to the ice: Trudeau

Smith was in Humboldt to watch the team’s emotional Sept. 12 home opener but he said it was difficult to return as a player.

The toughest part was being back in the dressing room — which still has the inspirational words of his former coach on the wall — without so many of his teammates.

“We were a special and tight-knit team so getting into a new dressing room atmosphere was a different feeling,” he said. “It’s a good group of guys here and I’m excited for them. They’ve been awesome throughout already.”

Smith said having Camrud and Patter on the team was a huge help.

They helped ease him back into practice.

Camrud and Patter were also on his first bus ride last weekend when he tweeted “as horrible as it was, I know my 16 amazing angels were watching over from the second I stepped on to the second I stepped off.”

Smith said getting back on a bus was another step forward.

“It was very tough,” he said. “Obviously that brings back memories, flashbacks … pretty much everything.

“If I needed something, they were there. I just took some deep breaths and tried to get through it.”

Smith said he knows it will be a long road ahead.

“Mentally it’s more of a day-by-day process,” he said. “I take a step back when I need to, a lot of deep breaths.

“Mentally it’s a whole different story. Physically I feel as though I’m ready but mentally, that’ll come.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Campbell River RCMP warn of ongoing frauds

The Campbell River RCMP are warning of ongoing frauds which continue to… Continue reading

City of Campbell River expands open-access internet network

CRadvantage offers affordable, high-speed internet connections – City

North Island Hospital Campbell River’s campus has a new food forest

And the hospital staff is encouraging the community to come ‘nibble’ on the produce

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

B.C. to allow customers to buy cannabis online for in-store pickup at private shops

Age verification will still be required inside the store

30% of British Columbians would ‘wait and see’ before taking COVID vaccine: poll

Some are concerned about side effects, while others don’t think the virus is a big deal

Most Read