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.

Just Posted

Residents escape fire in Campbell River mobile home

CR Firefighters respond to mobile home fire this morning. No injuries reported.… Continue reading

Future of Campbell River Sportsplex will go to public consultation

‘We have buckets on the floor to catch the leaks in the roof. That’s unpalatable to me’

City of Campbell River Budget 2020: Capital projects

Over $30 million of city’s 2020 budget will be spent on infrastructure improvements

Still time to grab a tag and help a local child this Christmas

As of end of day Tuesday, there were still 134 tags remaining on the Angel Tree

Campbell River municipal tax rate to rise 2.9 per cent in 2020

City council deliberated on next 10-year financial plan over three days this week

VIDEO: Federal Liberals’ throne speech welcomes opposition’s ideas

Trudeau will need NDP or Bloc support to pass legislation and survive confidence votes

VIDEO: John Lennon’s iconic Rolls Royce rolls into Vancouver Island college for checkup

Royal BC Museum, Camosun College and Coachwerks Restorations come together to care for car

VIDEO: Rockslide closes part of Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

MARS receives the gift of an X-ray machine

Country Animal Hospital in Courtenay donated the machine and processing machine to MARS

Petition calls for appeal of ex-Burns Lake mayor’s sentence for sex assault

Prosecution service says Luke Strimbold’s case is under review

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

BC firefighters to help battle Australian bushfires

Canada sent 22 people, including 7 from B.C.

B.C. NDP touts the end of MSP premiums

Horgan, James held news conference to reiterate that people will get their last bill this month

Oscar Hickes: Longest running hockey tournament on Vancouver Island cancelled

Patrick Murray, one of the organizers for the tournament, broke the sad news on social media.

Most Read