A longtime New England college hockey coach is sending his condolences to the Canadian youth team that suffered devastating losses of life in a tragic bus crash Friday night.
"Our hearts go out to them," Norwich University men's hockey coach Mike McShane said of the Humboldt Broncos, from the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.
A team bus and a big rig collided Friday night, killing 15 people: 10 Broncos players aged 16 to 21, two coaches and three staffers.
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Fourteen others were injured, and the wreck is still under investigation.
"It's horrible," McShane said. "These kids — they're great kids. They come from wonderful families. To have something like this happen is the ultimate tragedy."
McShane described that part of Canada as very tight-knit and small, where hockey is a major part of social life and community culture.
Norwich's coaching staff has regularly recruited young athletes from that league, including at least six in recent years from the Broncos.
"My assistant coach has seen them play probably four times this year already," McShane told NBC10 Boston. "We know the assistant coaches and the head coach that passed away. My assistant coach is very friendly with them."
Two former Humboldt Broncos were on the 2017-2018 Norwich men's hockey squad.
The school said those student athletes flew from Vermont back home to Canada to be with their grieving community at a memorial service Sunday night that mourned the dead and prayed for the injured survivors.
"Across our region, our province, our country and our globe, we will find strength in one another," Kevin Garinger, the president of the Humboldt Broncos, said at a memorial service in Canada this weekend. "Today and for every day forward, we are all Humboldt Broncos, and we will be forever 'Humboldt Broncos Strong.'"
A Norwich University spokesperson said the office of student affairs has taken steps to support the two Broncos alums during the tragedy, including notifying the counseling center and residential life staff to make everyone aware of the situation.
McShane said the Norwich Cadets have a team meeting planned to talk about ways to support the ongoing charity efforts benefiting families of the crash victims.