BONAVISTA, N.L. — The hockey community in Bonavista knows grief all too well.
And a ceremony at Cabot Stadium tonight, to pay tribute to 16 members of the Humboldt Broncos Junior hockey team who died in a bus crash in Saskatchewan last week, was especially poignant.
At one end of the rink was a heart fashioned from lights with 16 sticks in the centre.
Family members of Dean Little couldn’t hold in their emotions in as Minor Hockey Association president Leigh Anne Ryder drew the crowd’s attention to the other end of the rink where, in the far corner, the solitary light from Dean’s trophy case shines brightly in the room bearing his name.
Little was a member of the Bonavista peewee team. He died tragically while attending a tournament 25 years ago. He was just 12 years old.
Every hockey season he is remembered in a memorial tournament in his hometown, organized by his family, and his memory lives on within the minor hockey organization. Members of the Bonavista peewee team all wear the number three on their jerseys and no player wears the “C” because Dean is still considered their captain.
Ryder says this town knows how tough it is to raise a banner for a deceased player, and the thought of raising 16 banners hurts her soul.
However, seeing the support from young hockey players from around the country lifts her heart, she said.
Tonight in Bonavista, as it was in many hockey rinks across the country this evening, people wore hockey jerseys and clutched lights and glow sticks, and held Broncos signs, as the hockey community nation-wide showed paid tribute to the Broncos.
Dean Little’s sisters, Gina Little and Colleen Tinkham, told The Packet they know the support of the local hockey community first hand in times like these.
“All (these types of things are) due to the spirit of the hockey community that keeps this going,” said Colleen of how the community has never forgotten her brother.
“Our association is unbelievable, the support and respect,” added Gina.
Ryder concluded the ceremony tonight by saying how hockey communities around the country, like Bonavista, can lend support at times like this.
“We’re Bonavista-Strong, and it’s communities like ours that will help keep Humboldt-Strong,” she said.