Junior hockey team honours fallen teammate

Members of the Prince Albert Raiders visit Sask. town to pay their respects to a young player who died in April’s Humboldt Broncos bus crash

MONTMARTRE, Sask. — The Prince Albert Raiders stepped onto the ice in Adam Herold’s hometown rink earlier this month to pay tribute to a defenceman who should have been in the lineup.

Adam Herold was killed in the Humboldt Broncos’ bus crash on April 6 before he could make his dream of playing fulltime with the Western Hockey League’s P.A. Raiders a reality.

The Raiders drafted the 16-year-old in the second round of the 2016 WHL bantam draft, hosting him for training camps and adding him to the lineup for pre-season and regular games.

Coach Marc Habscheid said the full-day stop in Montmartre on Dec. 6, which included a tribute at Herold’s school, a skate with students and supper at the Herold farm, was an act of respect.

“We can’t fix anything by coming here, but what we can do is show our respect,” said Habscheid. “Adam was not only a good hockey player, but he was a really good person and we’re here to pay tribute to that.”

Prince Albert Raider coach Marc Habscheid, right, gave Adam Herold’s jersey to his family, Erin, left, Raelene and Russell Herold. | Christalee Froese photo

Centre Carson Miller of Yorkton battled against Herold for many years in minor hockey, only to become Herold’s teammate when they were both drafted by the Raiders.

“Adam was the guy that always said please and thank you,” said the 18-year-old Miller. “He was a team guy and put each teammate before himself. Not only that, but he did it with a smile on his face, like the little things he did were ‘no big deal’ and he enjoyed doing them.”

For Adam’s parents, Russell and Raelene Herold of Montmartre, the loss of their son at the age of 16 has not been an easy road to walk. The farming couple, along with 20-year-old daughter, Erin, watched the P.A. Raider tribute to Adam with heavy hearts.

“It’s just so sad because I look at every one of those boys and I think, ‘Adam should have been up there with them,’ ” said Raelene.

Russell added that his son, who would have been in Grade 12 this year, would have been thrilled to host his WHL team in his small rural farming community.

“I just think of how proud Adam would have been to be up there with his teammates and practicing with his team in his hometown. It would have been one of the proudest moments in his life, and one of his family’s proudest moments too,” said Russell.

The Herolds put their crop in last spring, despite Adam’s death on April 6. While neighbours, friends and the community rallied to help, Russell and Raelene said they simply don’t know how they made it through that difficult time.

“I’m not sure how we did it,” said Russell. “I think it must have been out of habit that we knew what we should do, so we just did it.”

Raelene added that the last eight months, including seeding and harvest, have been a blur.

“We were just like robots … we were in a fog,” said Raelene, adding that the reality of their loss is just now sinking in. “On days like this we realize it’s a reality. It’s not going to go away.”

Farm life was integral to the Herold lifestyle with Adam taking on many farm duties and showing interest in becoming a grain farmer one day. After the accident, future plans changed.

“We were focused on improving the farm and growing it and now we’re just treading water,” said Russell.

The Herolds have kept busy establishing the Adam Herold Legacy Foundation (adamheroldlegacyfoundation.ca), which supports young hockey players. The Herolds are also suing the semi driver charged in the Humboldt crash that involved 29 Humboldt Broncos players and staff and killed 16, as well as suing the trucking company and the manufacturer of the bus.

The farming couple’s message is a simple one: “appreciate each day and enjoy everything you have because life is short.”

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