SAN DIEGO – Emotional tributes to members of a junior hockey team killed or injured in a bus crash in Canada have gained huge traction on social media.
Ten players with the Humboldt Broncos hockey team and five others, including two coaches, were killed after the bus carrying them collided with a tractor-trailer late Friday in the Saskatchewan province. At least 13 others were injured.
As a community vigil in the Broncos’ Edgar Petersen Arena, was ongoing, The Sports Network (TSN) broadcaster Brian Munz urged his followers to leave their hockey sticks out on porches, front and back doors, gaining inspiration from a high school friend who did the same.
“Got this text from a friend who I went to high school with in Humboldt,” Munz tweeted. The attached picture shows a hockey stick leaning on the porch and the message reads: “Leaving it out on the porch tonight. The boys might need it … wherever they are.”
The response was overwhelming, with hundreds of people from both Canada and the United States posting photos of their tributes on Twitter and Instagram, using the hashtags #putyoursticksout and #humboldtstrong.
San Diegans were also paying tribute to the team. Gulls President Matt Savant posted a picture to Twitter of his children wearing hockey gear in support of the players.
In a show of support for the @HumboldtBroncos my children’s school is encouraging students to wear a hockey jersey to school today. I’m proud to be part of this San Diego community. #HumboltdStrong #HockeyFamily pic.twitter.com/u2nC7Josgi
— Matt Savant (@msavant88) April 12, 2018
— Ingrid Kavelaars (@ingridkavelaars) April 12, 2018
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) April 11, 2018
Humboldt Broncos Assistant Coach Chris Beaudry made an impression on Gulls Coach Dallas Eakins when the two met as part of Eakins’ “Pass the Puck” coaching fellowship in San Diego earlier this season.
— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) April 9, 2018
— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) April 8, 2018
One of those homages is from Mark Pino, 50, who lives near the US-Canadian border in Grand Island, New York.
“When I first heard the tragic news regarding the Humboldt Broncos, I was overcome by emotions. My heart aches for the families of the deceased and the survivors,” Pino, a father of four who’s coached his son’s house league and traveled with hockey teams for 14 years, told CNN.
“The game of hockey has given me many gifts of friendship that will last a lifetime. By placing my two hockey sticks on my front porch, I am offering them as an homage and a remembrance to the players, coaches and bus driver who lost their lives so tragically.”
Another user, Aisling Gamble from Calgary, Alberta, placed the hockey sticks “in memory of the lives lost and in support of those recovering from injuries.”
“We are a hockey family — our triplet sons all play — and the tragedy has hit us and the whole hockey community hard,” she told CNN. “It felt like a small thing we could do to show Humboldt and the families that we’ll hold them up through their grief and pain.”
Meanwhile, a public fundraising campaign for the Humboldt Broncos has passed $4.7 million in its first two days.
Sylvie Kellington, a Humboldt resident whose son played for the Broncos bantam A team last season, set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds for the players and families affected in the bus crash.
“There are no words that could express the incredible support the hockey community has seen here. Almost 60,000 people from almost 60 countries around the world have heard our story and were moved to help,” Kellington wrote in the latest update.