HUMBOLDT, SASK. — Michael Clarke calls it the biggest goal he has ever scored in his life.
On a power-play in the second period, the Medicine Hat product found the back of the net, scoring the first goal for the Humboldt Broncos in their game against the Nipawin Hawks on Wednesday. It was the first game for the Broncos, five months following a deadly bus crash that killed 16 people, and was broadcast across Canada on TSN.
“The country and the world were kind of waiting on that first goal,” he said.
“I got a really awesome pass from my teammate, he kind of threw it through three or four people. It was a bit of an open net, a bit of an easy one, but once it went in, I didn’t even know how to celebrate. I was going to go for a little skate, but i ended up just doing a little hop, hugging my buddies. It was very emotional, that’s for sure.”
Clarke says the magnitude of the moment hit him when he sat on the bench following the shift.
“One I got back to the bench, and seeing the replay and the crowd, they didn’t sit down for a few minutes, and then it kind of hit me,” he said. It was really tough, but it was also really unbelievable.”
Clarke's goal was the only one in the game, as the Hawks topped the Broncos 2-1
Clarke, who started his career with the Hockey Hounds and the Southeast Athletic Club, has spent the last four years playing at the junior “A” level, including stints with the Calgary Canucks and the Grande Prairie Storm with the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He played a brief stint in the British Columbia Hockey League for the Chilliwack Chiefs, and was traded to Humboldt in June.
Clarke was also named one of the three alternate captains of the team for the season (The Broncos did not name a captain in honour of Logan Schatz, who was among those killed in the bus crash).
Clarke says the entire locker room is filled with leaders.
“Every single guy, whether they’re the most talkative guy in the room, or the quiet guy, guys go out and work hard,” he said. “That’s a sign of leadership.
“Then you have guys like Brayden (Camrud) and Derek (Patter), that were in the accident last year. They’re really at, like, if you have a question about it, they’re willing to answer it. That’s almost a relief for guys. We’re not walking around on eggshells, not trying to say the wrong thing, and if guys are curious, they’re very comfortable with talking about it. I think that goes a long way for leaderhship as well.”
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