ROCHESTER – Humboldt, the small Saskatchewan town reeling from a crash that killed 15 members of its beloved junior hockey team, is home for Americans defenseman Nathan Paetsch.
While Paetsch lived about 20 minutes away in tiny LeRoy, he was born in Humboldt, developed into an NHL talent playing minor hockey there and still has family in and around the town of about 5,900.
On Friday, a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos to a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoff game collided with a tractor-trailer on a rural highway. The crash injured the other 14 people on board.
Humboldt, Paetsch said, is a “very close” community.
“It’s a hockey town, it’s always been a great hockey city and a great community,” Paetsch told the Times Herald following Saturday’s 6-5 overtime win against the Toronto Marlies inside Blue Cross Arena. “It’s just sad. One of my closest friends growing up, she’s a high school teacher there, and obviously she’s devastated.
“It’s just a time difficult for everybody around home. It’s just a tragedy.”
Paetsch wants to “help out any way I possibly can.”
“That’s home,” he said.
Words can’t express how deeply saddened I am to hear about the tragedy today. My thoughts and prayers to all the families and friends back home in humboldt.
— Nathan Paetsch (@NpDefensemen) April 7, 2018