Michael Clarke, a hockey player in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League with ties to the Burin Peninsula, said he cannot describe the feeling being present for a tribute to the players and staff of the Humboldt Broncos who lost their lives on April 6, when a transport truck collided with a charter bus the team was travelling on, killing 16 people and leaving 13 injured.
“It was very emotional and hard to put into words,” said Clarke, who joined the Humboldt Broncos this season.
“So many people were affected and to see the names of former Broncos that are no longer with us was very hard to see. However, it gives me something to play for and represent this year and I will try to do that the best I can.”
Clarke was born in Alberta, but got his start on the ice while still living on the Burin Peninsula.
“My entire family is from back east,” he explained. “I grew up ‘til I was about six in Terrenceville…I spent quite a bit of time there.”
He added that he doesn’t often get a chance to return to the area but hopes to get back this summer.
Clarke told The Southern Gazette Oct 5 that before getting traded to the Broncos, he played two years non-consecutively with the Calgary Canucks.
“I think it was probably three weeks into June that I found out from our coach there in Calgary that he had moved me,” he explained.
He also played two years with the Grand Prairie Storm before returning last season for his final year as a Canunk.
The 5’11” centre said he was excited to make the move to Humboldt.
“It’s pretty cool, there’s not really a better spot (that) I’d want to finish my junior career, with what happened — being able to come here and help the community—help the guys that were here last year and the new guys that come in, to help guide them through,” he said. “It’s going to be a good year but a sad year…”
Clarke said so far, the team has been playing really well.
“It was supposed to be more of a rebuild year but we got off to a good start here, we’re second in the league right now…so it’s definitely not a rebuild like we thought it would be,” he said. “We surpassed a lot of expectations out of the gate here and we’re looking to keep doing it.”
He added that going into the season there were a lot of mixed emotions throughout the team. The team tries to keep it light in there dressing room.
“We’re a team of brothers, so we help each other out as much as we can, but for the most part we come in pretty positive every day and try to do the best that we can,” he said.
Clarke said so far, he is happy with his play.
“I got off to a bit of a slower start than I had wanted to, but I picked it up during the last few games and I want to keep building on that.”
He added he hopes to work himself up in the stats and build on his defensive game.
Clarke, who is considering becoming a veterinarian, said that he hopes to carry on into college hockey following the completion of his junior year.
“I have a few options—I haven’t really decided on what I exactly on what I wanted to do yet,” he said.