Three weeks ago, the Humboldt Broncos squeezed together for a celebratory team photo—a snapshot now synonymous with unthinkable heartache. Their hair dyed bright yellow for what they hoped would be a long postseason run, the players had just pulled off an upset, beating the Melfort Mustangs four games to one in the opening round of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoffs. The Broncos’ reward was a date with the first-place Nipawin Hawks, their longtime rival. After squeezing out a victory in Game 3 of that best-of-seven series, the Broncos were down 2-1 when they laced up their skates for Game 4 on home ice: the famed Elgar Petersen Arena (EPA), named in honour of Humboldt’s most tireless volunteer. Win again that Wednesday night, and the series would be tied; lose, and the Hawks would grab a commanding 3-1 lead. Either way, the Broncos would be boarding a bus back to Nipawin for Game 5 on Friday April 6.
Read an oral history of the Humboldt tragedy — as told by Broncos players, family, first responders and others — at Macleans.ca.