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Coral hockey star battles through heartache

Like so many others across the country, Daniel McKitrick, formerly of Coral Harbour, was shocked and saddened to tears when he heard the devastating news of the crash involving the team bus of the Humboldt Broncos that claimed the lives of 16 people on April 6.

The news was a direct shot to McKitrick's heart, having played a season and a half with the Broncos and knowing some who survived...and some who didn't.

Daniel McKitrick (18) of Coral Harbour and teammate Tristan Culleton (16) of the Steinbach Pistons move toward a loose puck in their own zone during playoff action in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League on April 21. McKitrick, formerly of Coral Harbour, played a season and a half with the Humboldt Broncos. photo courtesy of Bruce McKitrick

“I had seven or eight former Broncos teammates who were on that bus,” he said.

McKitrick missed Game 2 of his Manitoba Junior Hockey League final series with the Steinbach Pistons this past month, when he ran into a snowstorm on his way back to Steinbach from Humboldt, Sask.

But it was a trip he had to make.

McKitrick said it tore the heart out of him when he first received the news about the Humboldt tragedy.

He said it was all so awful, but he had to go back to see his former billets and teammates, and so many others in the community he had become so close to during his time there.

“It was a senseless, crazy tragedy and I don't know what else to say about it,” said McKitrick. “I thought about how many times I was riding that same way there with my teammates. They're just really awesome people down there in Humboldt.”

During his time as a Bronco, grew very close to his teammates, he said.

“We hung-out together all the time,” he said. “It's not like when you play with Steinbach, Cobourg, Winnipeg or Toronto, because some of the players on those teams have homes in the city.”

McKitrick's voice began to crack as he continued to speak of the people of Humboldt and the unbearable anguish they have experienced.

“They're going through such a hard time in Humboldt right now, but, you know what, they're getting through it,” he said. “It's been so nice to see all the support they've received; all the money that's been donated and everything that's been all over the Internet and television.”

“The Broncos are special in Humboldt. It's crazy how everyone looks forward to having a new team each year and going to all the games. It really brings the community together and it's just terrible what happened.”