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Sports Sledge hockey game a milestone for former Bronco

11:51  14 september  2018
11:51  14 september  2018 Source:   msn.com

Return of Broncos 'bittersweet' for alumni

  Return of Broncos 'bittersweet' for alumni Ross Gilchrist was taken aback by how much a bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos affected him personally. Gilchrist played for the junior hockey franchise from 1971 to 1973. The crash, which left 16 dead and many others dealing with lifelong injuries, prompted him to call a couple of former teammates and get an alumni association started. He was able to purchase nearly 30 tickets for when the Broncos get back on the ice Wednesday night for their first regular season game since the tragedy and he offered them to the 220 people he managed to get on the team's alumni mailing list."We just got inundated," Gilchrist recalls from his home in Victoria, B.C.

Ryan Straschnitzki takes to the ice to practice his sledge hockey skills in Calgary on Tuesday, August 7, 2018. HKO-Sask-Bus-Crash-Straschnitzki. It might be a fun, trash talking celebrity sledge hockey game but you can see in Straschnitzki's eyes that it's no joking matter. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol© Provided by thecanadianpress.com Ryan Straschnitzki takes to the ice to practice his sledge hockey skills in Calgary on Tuesday, August 7, 2018. HKO-Sask-Bus-Crash-Straschnitzki. It might be a fun, trash talking celebrity sledge hockey game but you can see in Straschnitzki's eyes that it's no joking matter. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol

CALGARY - It might be a fun, trash-talking, celebrity sledge hockey game but to Ryan Straschnitzki, it's no joking matter.

In the Cowboys N Sleds Charity Sledge Hockey game Saturday, the former Humboldt Bronco and a team of all-stars, including country singer George Canyon, will take on drivers and outriders from the World Professional Chuckwagon Association and Ryan's father, Tom.

Back on the ice: Humboldt Broncos play 1st regular season game since the crash

  Back on the ice: Humboldt Broncos play 1st regular season game since the crash Ross Gilchrist was able to purchase nearly 30 tickets for when the Broncos get back on the ice Wednesday night for their first regular season game since the tragedy and he offered them to the 220 people he managed to get on the team's alumni mailing list. "We just got inundated," Gilchrist recalls from his home in Victoria, B.C. Emails started to flood in from people all over the world, including England and Sweden, who wanted to come and show their support. Team president Jamie Brockman says he is not really sure what to expect when the Broncos face the Nipawin Hawks Wednesday night.

For Straschnitzki, who was paralyzed from the chest down in the April 6 bus crash that claimed 16 lives, it's his first time in a game since the accident.

"It's going to be different for sure. I'm going to have to get used to things. I know I'm going to fall. I know I'm going to make mistakes, but it's learning from that," he said following a physiotherapy session this week.

Sledge hockey is one of the more popular sports at the Paralympic Winter Games and became an official event in 1994.

Instead of skates, players use double-blade sledges that allow the puck to pass beneath. Players use two sticks, which have a spiked end for pushing and a blade for shooting.

Straschnitzki has been working with former national sledge team member Chris Cederstrand to learn the sport and hopes to represent Canada at the Olympics.

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"I think Chris is going to set me up for a few goals so hopefully that can happen, but I've never been much of a goal scorer, so maybe I'll just set people up," he said with a laugh.

"It's being on the ice again, but with a different perspective."

Cederstrand, who played in the Western Hockey League for the Red Deer Rebels and Swift Current Broncos, had his right leg amputated above the knee following a workplace accident. He said Straschnitzki's progress has been amazing.

"There's almost no words for me to describe how well he's doing out there and I know it's a frustrating experience for him still. He's so soon out of this accident. I've never seen anybody with what he has, progress as fast as he has," said Cederstrand.

He said getting back on ice is good for recovery.

"Hockey's hockey. We're playing hockey and we're sitting and it's a different, but in the end, it's still the same game," Cederstrand said.

Humboldt Broncos player joins Saskatoon Blades staff

  Humboldt Broncos player joins Saskatoon Blades staff SASKATOON - One of the Humboldt Broncos hockey players injured in a bus crash that killed 16 people has joined his hometown Western Hockey League team as an assistant to the coaches. The Saskatoon Blades say in a news release that Xavier Labelle, who is 18, has joined the major junior team as a hockey operations assistant. Labelle suffered a fractured skill, a concussion, internal bleeding and 20 broken bones on April 6 when a transport truck collided with the junior hockey team's bus in Saskatchewan. © Provided by thecanadianpress.com Xavier Labelle of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team attends a news conference in Las Vegas on June 19, 2018.

"For Ryan to continue on with us and to ultimately give him the goal of representing our country is going to be huge in his rehabilitation process."

The teams appear mismatched. Straschnitzki's team includes Cederstrand, some former hockey players including Cassie Campbell, and Olympic athletes. But most taking part will only get about 20 minutes of practise on the sleds before the game.

"It's a sport that a lot of people look at and think I can do that. Then you actually sit in one of these sleds you find out that you can't," Cederstrand said.

"Two 30 minute periods ... it will be a fatiguing day for these guys."

Funds raised from the event will go to support the StrazStrong Foundation in support of Straschnitzki and STARS Air Ambulance.

Tom Straschnitzki has been having fun promoting the event.

"I've been yapping pretty good," he said. "We'll see Saturday if I can back it up."

He wonders how his son will feel returning to competition.

"It could be good. He could have flashbacks but I think with all of us in the sledge who haven't been in the sledge it evens up the playing field," he said.

"He hasn't said anything about it. He never talks pregame. He never has. I think he'll do fine with it. "

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

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