WINDSOR HEIGHTS, Iowa -- The hockey community in central Iowa is rallying behind the Humboldt Broncos after the Canadian team lost many of its players in a bus crash on Friday.
“The hockey community is such a tight-knit family. We all take care of each other,” said Justin Bottoms, owner of JT’s Slapshot Hockey Shop.
When the staff at the hockey shop heard about the crash, they jumped at the opportunity to help by starting a fundraiser.
“Really in the hockey community, when something like this happens it just seems like everyone comes together, even as quick as there was a pro game that just happened and they very quickly did the Broncos on the back of their jerseys and they donated quite a bit of money as well,” Bottoms said.
Stall began taking donations at the store over the weekend, but they’ll be doing even more this week.
“So on Monday and Tuesday, all of our skate sharpening sales are going towards the team, to the families, and what we are doing is we are matching that, as well, and then we are taking in donations from other people, from those who don’t even play the sport, to help out with this tragedy that happened,” Bottoms said.
The incident was felt by hockey teams all over the world, even right here in Iowa.
“I know our team, the kids are made up of everyone coming from all over the United States, from Canada, from Europe, and they were shaken by this. Thirty times a year they get on a bus just like this hockey team in Humboldt does and they travel to different cities around the Midwest, and a lot of times we take that for granted,” said Nate Teut, president of the Des Moines Buccaneers hockey team.
The Iowa Wild hockey team is on the road at a game in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the head coach said this crash hits close to home.
“I think everyone in our room can relate to it. Everyone through their career has take many a ride and we do it in the American Hockey League. We’re going home tonight, through the night, through weather. It’s just really sobering. It’s scary. That’s, again, why it hurts so much, is it could have happened to anyone and it’s awful news,” said Derek Lalonde.
Along with Slapshot’s fundraiser, both the Buccaneers and Wild teams plan to support the Humboldt community.
“We are going to get involved. I know our guys, which is exciting, they came right to us saying, 'hey, what can we do?' We’re going to put money on the board and I think we are going to do something at our next home game. And again, this tragedy will show how great and how strong the hockey community is. Everyone will be there for that community,” Lalonde said.
Teut said this tragedy is tough for everyone.
“The heart breaks for everybody in the hockey community. And this isn’t just affecting the hockey community. If you talk to anybody in sport and even outside of sport, this is rattling the cage of several people, and again, we are going to step up and do what we can,” he said.
JT’s Slapshot Hockey Shop is accepting donations on Monday and Tuesday and donating all of its skate sharpening sales from both days, as well as matching those sales to send to the Humboldt Broncos.