Tyler Smith of the Humboldt Broncos is shown in a handout photo.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Handout/Tyler Smith

‘We play for them:’ Bronco to return to ice for his first game since bus crash

One of the Humboldt Broncos in a bus crash last April will be back on the ice with his team for the first time this weekend.

Humboldt Bronco player Tyler Smith had a broken collarbone, a broken shoulder blade and nerve damage down his left arm.

He was on the junior hockey team’s bus when it collided with a semi-trailer at a Saskatchewan intersection on the way to a playoff game. Sixteen people died.

Smith, now 20, was one of the 13 players who were hurt.

He has mostly recovered — other than some nerve damage in his left hand and wrist — and he plans to play Friday in his first game with the Broncos since the crash.

“I’m really excited, but at the end of the day I’m still pretty nervous,” Smith told The Canadian Press. “It’ll be OK after the first couple shifts but that first shift is going to be a lot of emotions. Even before the game it’s going to be pretty emotional.

“We play for them is a really true statement … I just really want to play for them.”

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound forward from Leduc, Alta., said he had juggled the idea of playing for the team again as he recovered from his injuries.

“I just want to get back to it,” he said. “A couple of weeks before I came, I decided to get up and go.”

He started practising with this year’s team, which includes Brayden Camrud and Derek Patter. They were the only two players who were involved in the crash who are back on the Broncos roster this season.

Related: Humboldt Broncos emerge from tragedy

Related: All of Canada cheering for Humboldt Broncos as they return to the ice: Trudeau

Smith was in Humboldt to watch the team’s emotional Sept. 12 home opener but he said it was difficult to return as a player.

The toughest part was being back in the dressing room — which still has the inspirational words of his former coach on the wall — without so many of his teammates.

“We were a special and tight-knit team so getting into a new dressing room atmosphere was a different feeling,” he said. “It’s a good group of guys here and I’m excited for them. They’ve been awesome throughout already.”

Smith said having Camrud and Patter on the team was a huge help.

They helped ease him back into practice.

Camrud and Patter were also on his first bus ride last weekend when he tweeted “as horrible as it was, I know my 16 amazing angels were watching over from the second I stepped on to the second I stepped off.”

Smith said getting back on a bus was another step forward.

“It was very tough,” he said. “Obviously that brings back memories, flashbacks … pretty much everything.

“If I needed something, they were there. I just took some deep breaths and tried to get through it.”

Smith said he knows it will be a long road ahead.

“Mentally it’s more of a day-by-day process,” he said. “I take a step back when I need to, a lot of deep breaths.

“Mentally it’s a whole different story. Physically I feel as though I’m ready but mentally, that’ll come.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Gardening: George and the family berry plan

Pitt Meadows family’s farm roots go back to 1925.

Letter: Premier has ‘no clue’ on PR

Or Horgan is deliberately hiding his intentions.

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

MacDuff’s Call: I will be voting to stay with First Past the Post

‘This referendum isn’t about good governance.’

Maple Ridge care home celebrates veteran on Nov. 11

Lt.-Col. John Bossons joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in January 1960.

Clear skies for Fraser Blues Remembrance Day flyby

It was the first time the formation team flew over the Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows Remembrance Day ceremonies

Touching note left on Lower Mainland veteran’s windshield

A veteran is hoping the writers of a note know how much he was touched by their kind words.

B.C. health care payroll tax approved, takes effect Jan. 1

Employers calculating cost, including property taxes increases

Nunavut urges new plan to deal with too many polar bears

Territory recommends a proposal that contradicts much of conventional scientific thinking

18-year-old to hospital after shots fired in White Rock

Police investigating early-morning incident

Shelter struggles: Landlord takes over rental unit whenever visiting B.C. town

Renter’s story highlights how hard it is to find accommodation in Revelstoke

‘Weird Al’ brings Strings Attached tour to Lower Mainland next summer

Legendary musical satirist performs with full symphony orchestra

Lack of public response threatens B.C. referendum credibility

Of the few who have voted, poll finds most rejected proportional representation

Tentative deal reached in NHL concussion lawsuit

More than 100 former players accused the league of failing to better prevent head trauma

Most Read