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Humboldt Broncos memorial tournament returns

With fundraising efforts no longer necessary, this year's tournament brought the community together to honour the four young hockey players by playing the game they loved.

After two years of cancellations, the third annual Humboldt Broncos Memorial Hockey Tournament took place at Troy Murray Arena over the weekend.

The memorial tournament, held July 8-10, honours the four young men who died in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in 2018, all of whom played minor hockey in St. Albert: Logan Hunter, Jaxon Joseph, Conner Lukan, and Stephen Wack. 

“I remember when everything first happened, I had a feeling of wanting to do something," said tournament co-organizer Josh Dechaine. "That’s kind of how the tournament started. We didn’t know what to do but we wanted to do something."

Whereas previous tournaments were also a way to raise funds for the St. Albert Humboldt remembrance committee — the group that created scholarships for St. Albert high school students in honour of the four hockey players and commissioned a bronze stick sculpture located in Jarome Iginla Arena — the memorial tournament didn't raise funds this year.

"The parents informed us that the scholarship is very self sufficient and it doesn't need any more funds," Dechaine said. “The parents wanted it to not be a hassle having to raise money and things like that … just come out and celebrate.”

For the tournament, 100 players were split among four teams, Team Hunter, Team Joseph, Team Lukan, and Team Wack. 

“In hockey, obviously there’s a lot of players, but at the end of the day it’s a small world and everyone knows everyone," Dechaine said.

"It’s good to just get everyone together."

Curtis Peck — captain of Team Wack — said while playing in the tournament is special, it's bittersweet.

"This weekend brings family, friends, and the community together, but it also brings up some difficult memories for everyone involved," Peck said. "It’s a tournament that I wish we didn’t have to play based on the circumstances.

“It is important to never forget and that is why weekends like this ... are being held," Peck said. "By doing these types of events we preserve the memory of exceptional young men who were taken way too soon.”

Another team captain, Jordan Sadowsky of Team Joseph, echoed Peck's comments.

"It is a bittersweet moment for me because I love the sport of hockey and getting together with everyone, but [I] would rather have Jax be here and be able to hang out with him,” Sadowsky said.

“Being captain of Team Joseph means so much to me and I’m so glad to be playing in honour of my best friend."

Parents of Hunter, Joseph, and Lukan gave short speeches during the tournament's opening ceremony on Friday, July 8, as well as Tyler Smith, a Humboldt Broncos player who survived the crash. Smith also played in the tournament, and captained Team Lukan. 

National Hockey League goalie Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers dropped the puck for the ceremonial faceoff. Hart, 23, was born and raised in Sherwood Park. 

A few professional players also took part in the tournament.

Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Ian Mitchell of St. Albert was the captain of Team Hunter. St. Louis Blues defenceman Colton Parayko, also of St. Albert, played on Team Wack, as did Boston Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk, who is from Edmonton. San Jose Sharks forward Noah Gregor and Columbus Blue Jackets forward Trey Fix-Wolansky both played for Team Lukan. 

Team Wack defeated Team Hunter 5-3 in the tournament's final match on Sunday afternoon. Team Wack has been crowned the memorial tournament winner all three years.

Jokingly, Peck said Stephen Wack's parents, Alan and Trish, "run a pretty tight ship from the management position."

"They are always looking to make some moves in the off-season, and will shorten the bench if needed," he said. 

Jack Farrell

About the Author: Jack Farrell

Jack Farrell joined the St. Albert Gazette in May, 2022.
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