There was only one game scheduled for opening night Wednesday in the SJHL.
All eyes were on the city of Humboldt as the Broncos opened their new season against the defending league champions, the Nipawin Hawks.
Wednesday's game was the first regular-season hockey action for the Humboldt Broncos since the April 6 bus crash that claimed the lives of 16 people and injured 13 others within the Broncos organization.
The game, along with the pre and post-game ceremonies were broadcast live on TSN for the nation to see, in addition to the sold-out crowd that attended the game in person at Humboldt’s Elgar Petersen Arena.
Brayden Klimosko, head coach of the Battlefords' North Stars was one of those in the crowd. Klimosko is from Humboldt originally and spent four years with the Broncos as an assistant coach from 2013-14 to the 2016-17 season, working alongside the team’s late head coach Darcy Haugan as an assistant during his last two years with the club. Klimosko knew a number of people aboard the bus on April 6, and said it was important to him to be there for Wednesday's game in Humboldt.
“Obviously, I had some close ties with the boys and Darcy, and the coaching staff, so obviously being back there for the day, I didn’t want to miss that [game], he said. “There were definitely some [personal] ties there for sure.”
Klimosko said being at the rink was an experience he’ll always treasure.
“It was something I’ll never forget,” he said. “It was a different atmosphere than your typical hockey game. There was a lot of emotion, you could feel it in the rink and I think overall it was a great day.”
The North Stars will visit Humboldt to play the Broncos on Sept. 22, a date the Stars’ head coach has circled on the calendar.
“It’s going to be a weird feeling to be honest,” he said. “There was a lot of people [Wednesday] who said they can’t wait to see me next Saturday, and I think for me to be on the opposite side of that bench is going to be different.”
Klimosko went on to add there will likely be a range of emotions for him when he comes out to start the game.
“There’s going to be a lot of nerves and it’s probably going to be a bit awkward, but once the game starts I’m sure it’s just like your typical game,” he said. “It’s one I’m looking forward to but it’s going to be a different feel than what I’m used to for sure.”
The North Stars will play their season opener Friday at 7:30 p.m. The pre-game show starts at 7:15 on 1050 CJNB and 102.3 CJNS.
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