Grieving Canadian town to hold vigil for victims of deadly bus crash

With players who billet by local families, work in city businesses and attend local schools, MacLEAN said the tragedy touches every corner of Humboldt.

The players had been on their way to compete in Game 5 of a playoff series against the Nipawin Hawks when the bus they were traveling in collided with a semi-trailer.

"The Humboldt Broncos were about - not building hockey players - but creating fantastic young men".

"I can honestly say I didn't know a more kind-hearted, generous, caring and overall nice person", cousin Graeme Cross said in an online tribute.

Hockey teams and players from leagues across North America tweeted messages of support, many with the hashtag #prayersforhumboldt.

Police say there were 29 people on the bus, which was carrying the Humboldt Broncos, a team in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

The Broncos, like other teams in the league, attract players from different parts of Canada who stay with host families during the hockey season, the team's website said.

"An entire country is in shock and mourning", Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. At least two of the injuries were considered critical, the RCMP said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families tonight", he said.

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They gave no information about the status of the truck driver. "He's also been provided with some mental health and wellness assistance", Zablocki said Saturday afternoon.

That Rangers-Flyers game was proof of how close many in the hockey world are to something like this, as NBC's Pierre McGuire mentioned during their coverage that Rangers' assistant coach Lindy Ruff lost his brother Brent in the 1986 crash, and Flyers' head coach Dave Hakstol grew up with the Ruff brothers. He said he recalled Schatz as "one of those kids that you just don't forget".

Aerial footage showed the bus on its side, its roof peeled back and its front end destroyed. Like Poggemiller, he said trees obscure visibility at the junction and make it a risky intersection. Canadian police are looking into road, weather and vehicle conditions.

"It's overwhelming. It's been tough on everybody", Muench said in a phone interview.

"We're a small community here and this is just a huge hit. We are a small community by most standards, but the hockey team has always been a big part of our community", said Muench.

The Broncos team bus was travelling north to Nipawin on Highway 35 and a semi was travelling west on Highway 335 when the crash happened Friday.

Friday's crash is not the first highway accident to kill hockey players in Saskatchewan.

"I know that, from experience, it's not anything you're able to relate to when you lose someone or nearly lose someone that's close to you but having something to relate to like music or this song, kind of makes it easier", McDougall explained. In the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League's case, many of those players came from across Western Canada. The team includes 24 players, ages ranging from 16 to 21.

The Broncos play in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, an under-20 youth league that regularly produces NHL players.

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