MEDICINE HAT, AB — The Humboldt Broncos embarked on a new season last night with some local talent.
Medicine Hat's Michael Clarke made his mark just over two minutes in the second period scoring the broncos first goal since the accident.
In a game that was about so much more than hockey this goal signalled the start of a new chapter for the Humboldt Broncos.
Lana Hynes, Clarke’s mother, was in attendance and witnessed her son’s first goal on his new team.
"Pure proudness I think. He's been playing junior a for so long and just with the opportunity he got to go here and being the guy who got the home opener goal. It was pretty awesome," said Hynes.
The Broncos were forced to rebuild in just a few short months and Clarke was traded to Humboldt over the summer.
Jason Bartram, Clarke's Bantam AAA coach, has high praise for his former player.
“He played with an edge, he was a big kid, he had a ton of passion, and you knew he wanted to play hockey,” said Bartram.
Clarke will be a leader off the ice as well having been named alternate captain alongside crash survivors Brayden Camrud and Derek Patter.
"What a responsibility. What an honour. He'll carry it real well,” said Bartram. “Those young guys have a good guy to follow so Humboldt's in good hands."
This year's team is tasked with carrying on the Broncos’ legacy.
Hynes says the team's support system helped Clarke prepare for what emotions that first game would bring.
"You could see at times he was emotional during the game but he held it together pretty good. It was just me always asking if he was ready for this, if there was anything he needed and he was like ‘I'm good mom, I got this'. He was more than ready," said Hynes.
Hynes says watching the names of all 29 people on the bus that day being unveiled, was very emotional.
"Pretty much every parent from the players that were deceased were also there and you could hear in the crowd, it was a little tough. Not gonna lie, it was really tough to be there," said Hynes.
There will be another tough test for the team when they travel to Nipawin for the first time since the crash.
Hynes says the team recently visited the memorial in preparation for Friday's game against the Hawks.
Something that will be a little easier knowing the city of Humboldt and hockey fans around the world are behind them.
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