GALLERY: Rock raise $5k for Broncos

TIMMINS – A Sunday afternoon fundraiser by the Timmins Rock raised $5,000 for the Humboldt Broncos, who are recovering after a collision killed 15 people on Friday night.

By Emma Meldrum

Rock team members posed for an end-of-season group photo ahead of the event at the McIntyre Arena. It’s a photo the Broncos won’t be able to pose for this year, as the collision between the team bus and a semi trailer took the lives of several players, including the captain, head coach and bus driver.

The fundraiser, which gave fans a chance to skate with the Rock, drew a crowd. Youngsters were already laced up and ready to go, while the donation box slowly filled, ahead of the 4:30 start time. Twenty dollar bills piled on top of each other, adding to the already impressive total of nearly $4 million raised on GoFundMe in two days.

The funds will be used to support members and families of the Broncos team.

The tragic news story that made headlines close to home touched hearts in Timmins, too – hundreds, if Sunday night’s turnout was any indication.

Rock coach Corey Beer said the organization knew they had to do something to help ease the pain.

“Anything we can do to help out, even a small amount of money we can donate, we’re hoping we can help out that community and those families,” said Beer.

The coach was on the phone for five or six hours with former colleagues after he heard about the collision.

“I knew the head coach, Darcy Haugan – great guy, phenomenal family man. He’s done wonderful things for that program in the last bunch of years.”

With the Rock spending lots of time on the road during the season, Beer said the crash in Saskatchewan hits home. The Broncos were on their way to Nipawin for a playoff game.

“You’re almost in a state of shock and disbelief, very emotional. It hits close to home because we’re on long bus rides, four or five hours at a time, through tough weather, dangerous road conditions. You sometimes take for granted the safety that you do have. You trust your bus driver to get you home.

“It hits pretty hard, knowing that there’s a bunch of families that are now affected by that. Their sons aren’t coming home with them. It really is a tragic loss for the community.”

Beer said he and the team have talked about it, and bonded over it.

“You take comfort in the back that we’re all together, through all the ups and downs of a season. It kind of puts a season’s loss in a bit more perspective. There’s greater things at play here.”

And the Rock organization looked at the tragedy as an opportunity to help.

“Hockey – you forge such a close relationship with your teammates, your staff, your community,” said Beer. “I’m blown away at what this community does in terms of support for the Rock.”

The NOJHL released a statement on Saturday.

NOJHL Commissioner Robert Mazzuca said, “On behalf of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, our member clubs, team staffs, players, families, billet families and fans, we extend our deepest and heartfelt sympathies to the Humboldt Broncos, the Town of Humboldt and all those associated in this devastating loss.”

The league will be paying homage to the Broncos family at all upcoming NOJHL playoff games.