Campus community mourning following Humboldt tragedy

By Costa Maragos Posted: April 7, 2018 2:30 p.m.

Tristan Frei, a member of the U of R Cougars Men’s Hockey Team, played against most members of the Humboldt Broncos. “It’s tough to put into words. My hearts just aches,” he says.
Tristan Frei, a member of the U of R Cougars Men’s Hockey Team, played against most members of the Humboldt Broncos. “It’s tough to put into words. My hearts just aches,” he says. Photo courtesy of Arthur Images

Tristan Frei was still in a state of shock when he hit the ice Saturday morning, mere hours after hearing about the tragedy involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team.

Frei is a forward with the U of R Cougars Men’s Hockey team and a second year Education student. He still went to the arena for practice Saturday as the assistant coach of a kid’s spring league hockey team.

Late Friday afternoon, 15 people were killed when the bus they were in collided with a semi. According to the RCMP, another 14 people were injured.

The collision happened 30 kilometres north of Tisdale at a junction on highway 35. The Broncos, members of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), were on their way to a playoff game in Nipawin Friday evening.

Before joining the Cougars, Frei played with the Melfort Mustangs of the SJHL from 2013 to 2016.

“It’s such a horrific accident. I know a lot of those boys and the coaches. I played with some of them and played against them. It’s tough to put into words. My heart just aches,” says Frei.  

Todd Johnson
"The hockey community is small. Everyone is connected in some way" - Todd Johnson - Cougars coach. Photo by Arthur Images

Cougar’s coach Todd Johnson was still trying to come to terms with the news Saturday.

“There are not a lot of words to say. The hockey community is small. Everyone is connected in some way, shape or form,” says Johnson. “Bus rides are such a part of our sport.”

The tragedy is being felt beyond the U of R hockey community.

Over at the Education Building Saturday, organizers of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science’s annual Project Day started the event with a moment of silence to remember the victims of the Humboldt tragedy.

Of the 26 members of the Men’s Cougars team listed on the roster, at least 14 have played in the SJHL.

“Busses are a part of the hockey culture. It’s supposed to be a safe spot to leave what happened in the game behind you and just be with your buddies and not think about the game,” says Frei. ”The hockey community is tight-knit in Saskatchewan. For now, we just have to come together as a community as one team and get through this together.”

A GoFundMe Page has been set up to raise funds to help families of the Humboldt Broncos. More than $1 million was raised in less than 24 hours.