Fundraiser honours Humboldt players

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A charity hockey tournament will be played with heavy hearts in memory of the four St. Albert Raiders Hockey Club alumni killed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

The July 6 to 8 event at Mark Messier Arena will feature four teams named after Logan Hunter, Jaxon Joseph, Conner Lukan and Stephen Wack, who were among the 16 people who died in the collision between the team bus and a semi-trailer unit April 6.

“It’s something to honour the boys and remember them and just play in their names,” said Josh Dechaine, one of the organizers for the St. Albert Humboldt Broncos Memorial Charity Tournament.

The weekend will include a silent auction consisting of a variety of items in all price ranges. A donation bin will also be on site.

Eighty percent of the tournament  proceeds will be donated to the St. Albert Humboldt Remembrance Committee established by the City of St. Albert. One of the goals for the committee is to create a scholarship program to honour the legacies of the four players.

The other 20 per cent from the fundraiser will assist the Humboldt Strong Community Foundation, which is designed to help the survivors of the accident.

Silent auction items, sponsorships and financial donations are being accepted by the tournament organizers through broncosmemorialtourney@gmail.com.

More than 100 volunteers have signed up for a variety of tournament duties and several are doing multiple shifts.

“It’s close to filled up for Friday and Saturday but we’re still in need of quite a few volunteers for Sunday,” Dechaine said.

Visit www.humboldtbroncosmemorialtournament.com to volunteer.

The outpouring of support for the tournament “couldn’t be any greater to be honest,” Dechaine said. “We have lots of sponsors. We have lots of people donating to the silent auction. We have lots of people wanting to play, participate or volunteer.

“It just shows you how strong a community can be. Everyone has kind of rallied together to pick each other up.”

The tournament format is three round-robin games per team, followed by Sunday’s semifinals at 10 and 11:15 a.m. and the 12:30 p.m. final.

The length for each of the nine games is one hour.

The opening ceremonies start before the first game at 7:45 p.m. Friday.

Tournament admission is free.

Overall, 92 players have been confirmed for the tournament, including defenceman Colton Parayko of the St. Albert Blues.

“That’s kind of cool for us,” Dechaine said of St. Albert minor hockey product. “We also have three pro guys that are pending.”

The tournament concept was formed by individuals like Dechaine – a netminder for the Edmonton Oil Kings last season and former bantam AAA Sabre, midget 15 Flyer and midget AAA Raider – to honour the memories of the four players.

“After the event happened I wanted to do something and I wanted to help out in some way,” said Dechaine, 19. “We contacted a couple of the really close friends of the four boys and got them to put forth a couple of names for us and I think they each sent us about 12 to 14 players and then after that we thought of some people ourselves. You have to be over 18 to participate, that was the one thing, and a lot of local St. Albert Raiders will be playing.

“It was a bit of work to get this far but we had a good support cast. We have kind of a group of friends and a lot of adults who have given us support. There is also a group of adults that have provided us with insight and they have some knowledge on stuff like this,” said Dechaine of the contributions behind the scenes by Sandra Ray, Kyle Dube and Lisa Antunes. “The three of them have done a great job just in giving us help if problems arise. If we need help we just give them a call and they answer the question for us.”

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Jeff Hansen

Jeff Hansen joined the St. Albert Gazette in 1991. He writes about sports, athletes and teams from St. Albert and area.