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Thread: Humboldt Reflections

  
  1. #1
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    Humboldt Reflections

    Humboldt Reflections
    By Drew Pelto, AKA *censored*

    Before I was a photo editor, I was a broadcaster.

    A junior hockey broadcaster. For sixty games a year plus radio shows, podcasts, and TV spots, I would talk hockey involving players age 16-20 as they attempt to make the move to the collegiate level and maybe one day the NHL. I've called multiple games involving a number of players who eventually made it: Dan Sexton, Cal Heeter, Zach Trotman, Tucker Poolman, Pheonix Copley, Connor Hellebuyck, Keith Kincaid, Pat Maroon, Andrej Sustr, and Matt Tennyson all suited up for or against the Wildcats at some point in my time there.

    I've spent countless hours on buses like the one taken by the Humboldt Broncos yesterday, full of men of all ages just trying to make their dreams come true, whether it's the player wanting to get a college scholarship, the coach wanting to win his first championship, the driver wanting to make enough money to retire and drive just himself and his wife around the country, the trainer and equipment manager who wants to go to EMT school, or the broadcaster hoping to claw his way to ESPN.

    Every time you board a bus, somewhere in the back of your mind is that thought of the 1986 Swift Current WHL team-- also named the Broncos-- who had four players die in a winter accident as their bus skidded off an overpass. You know the odds are slim that anything like it would ever happen again. You trust your drivers, you know bus safety has improved vastly in that time, and you know the great majority of your trips aren't through places like Saskatchewan where ice and wind can rear their ugly head at any moment... but still, you can't help but think about it.


    Half of these young men are now gone, killed on their way to do what they love.

    Most of us make it fine. Maybe a little shimmy in the wind in the wide open spaced of New Mexico makes you bolt awake at 3 am, maybe an equipment failure leaves you at the side of the road outside Odessa or Joplin for a couple hours, maybe a driver gets arrested for punching a guy in a St. Louis hotel (all of which I have experienced). But nothing truly serious happens.

    And on the other hand, when you least expect it, something out of your control ends it. News like this is the reason my wife never slept from the time a game ended until she heard the door unlock.

    A year after I left for a new career, a player on a rival team, the Topeka Roadrunners' Peter Halash, was killed in a one-car accident from excessive speed in hazardous road conditions. He had a goal in his final game which was against my former team. The Roadrunners made the Robertson Cup Finals that year but have not been the same team since. Once an elite squad in the league, they have now missed the playoffs in back to back seasons-- something that had never happened in Topeka, and only once in their three seasons in Santa Fe.

    I don't know what will happen to the remainder of their playoff series, or even if any of them will play again. Right now, that's the least of many concerns. Fifteen dead, the others all injured. That's half the team gone, and the other half might never be in a position, either physically or mentally, to play again.

    May the victims be remembered. May the survivors come back stronger. And may we all value every minute, and remember that it could have been any of us.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Drew Pelto is the longest-tenured former broadcaster of the now-defunct Wichita Falls Wildcats of the North American Hockey League. He currently lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex with his wife and cats where he works as a card company photo editor.

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    Last edited by *censored*; 04-12-2018 at 02:12 PM.

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    Humboldt Reflections
    By Drew Pelto, AKA *censored*

    Before I was a photo editor, I was a broadcaster.

    A junior hockey broadcaster. For sixty games a year plus radio shows, podcasts, and TV spots, I would talk hockey involving players age 16-20 as they attempt to make the move to the collegiate level and maybe one day the NHL. I've called multiple games involving a number of players who eventually made it: Dan Sexton, Cal Heeter, Zach Trotman, Tucker Poolman, Pheonix Copley, Connor Hellebuyck, Keith Kincaid, Pat Maroon, Andrej Sustr, and Matt Tennyson all suited up for or against the Wildcats at some point in my time there.

    I've spent countless hours on buses like the one taken by the Humboldt Broncos yesterday, full of men of all ages just trying to make their dreams come true, whether it's the player wanting to get a college scholarship, the coach wanting to win his first championship, the driver wanting to make enough money to retire and drive just himself and his wife around the country, the trainer and equipment manager who wants to go to EMT school, or the broadcaster hoping to claw his way to ESPN.

    Every time you board a bus, somewhere in the back of your mind is that thought of the 1986 Swift Current WHL team-- also named the Broncos-- who had four players die in a winter accident as their bus skidded off an overpass. You know the odds are slim that anything like it would ever happen again. You trust your drivers, you know bus safety has improved vastly in that time, and you know the great majority of your trips aren't through places like Saskatchewan where ice and wind can rear their ugly head at any moment... but still, you can't help but think about it.


    Half of these young men are now gone, killed on their way to do what they love.

    Most of us make it fine. Maybe a little shimmy in the wind in the wide open spaced of New Mexico makes you bolt awake at 3 am, maybe an equipment failure leaves you at the side of the road outside Odessa or Joplin for a couple hours, maybe a driver gets arrested for punching a guy in a St. Louis hotel (all of which I have experienced). But nothing truly serious happens.

    And on the other hand, when you least expect it, something out of your control ends it. News like this is the reason my wife never slept from the time a game ended until she heard the door unlock.

    A year after I left for a new career, a player on a rival team, the Topeka Roadrunners' Peter Halash, was killed in a one-car accident from excessive speed in hazardous road conditions. He had a goal in his final game which was against my former team. The Roadrunners made the Robertson Cup Finals that year but have not been the same team since. Once an elite squad in the league, they have now missed the playoffs in back to back seasons-- something that had never happened in Topeka, and only once in their three seasons in Santa Fe.

    I don't know what will happen to the remainder of their playoff series, or even if any of them will play again. Right now, that's the least of many concerns. Fifteen dead, the others all injured. That's half the team gone, and the other half might never be in a position, either physically or mentally, to play again.

    May the victims be remembered. May the survivors come back stronger. And may we all value every minute, and remember that it could have been any of us.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Drew Pelto is the longest-tenured former broadcaster of the now-defunct Wichita Falls Wildcats of the North American Hockey League. He currently lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex with his wife and cats where he works as a card company photo editor.
    Great read!
    As a parent of hockey players this tragedy has hit
    close to home. Nine days ago I had never heard of Humboldt, Saskatchewan but being a hockey parent and fan is a global community. I have always enjoyed junior hockey and the excitement when a player I have watched play here in OKC or in back home in Amarillo makes NCAA Division I, ECHL, AHL or the big show.

    As you mentioned so many people were out chasing dreams and their lives changed or cut short out doing what they loved. You also have the parents, siblings other friends and family, billet parents as well as first responders who worked the accident. Lives all changed and for a reason our earthly bodies will never know or understand. The money raised has been overwhelming for me to wrap my head around. The sticks out movement was a great honor for the victims. I hope and pray this tragedy never happens again.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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  4. #3
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    Just now saw the comment here.

    Amarillo, eh? Oh boy... had a run-in with Dennis Williams back in 2011 when he was head coach there that nearly resulted in us trading punches.

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