by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
April 6, 2018 around 5 p.m. (CST) a bus transporting the Humboldt Broncos, members of Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, collided with a semi-trailer truck at the intersection of Saskatchewan Highway 35 and Saskatchewan Highway 335 near Armley, Saskatchewan.
The team was traveling to a playoff game against the Nipawin Hawks.
A total of 14 members of the Broncos team and organization died at the scene. Two other individuals would later die in hospital.
The victims included 10 players, two coaches, a volunteer, a broadcaster, the bus driver and an athletic therapist.
Among the deceased was Broncos head coach and general manager Darcy Haugan, a former player with the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Briercrest College men's hockey team from 1998-2000.
During his two seasons at Briercrest College, Haugan led the team in scoring with 27 goals 19 assists in 21 games during the 1998-1999 campaign, followed by 26 goals 14 assists in 26 ACAC regular season contests.
The 46-and-40 point totals are the only times a Briercrest player has totaled more than 39 points in regular season play since entering into ACAC men's hockey in 1997-1998.
Former Briercrest teammate (1999-2000) and current head coach in Briercrest, Jamie Ramer, recalls his college days spent with Haugan.
"Darcy was probably more of a quiet person as a student. He engaged with the hockey team and some smaller groups of people outside that but probably wasn't known deeply, too broadly. Those that did knew he cared about them. He spent many evenings just hanging out at our house and took over our couch as I was a married student my first year," said Ramer of Haugan, who was named ACAC second team All-Conference in 1998-1999
"Possibly a little known fact was his passion at the time for WWF wrestling. By the end of that year, my wife even knew all the story lines of that show. He was thoughtful and also passionate. He wasn't afraid to share his thoughts, opinions and questions about the game or in life.
"He had a quirky sense of humour that I appreciated. As I was reminded through his funeral, he would also often ask self-evident types of questions, just to see if he could get you to answer them. He caught me any many others in this.
"He probably had more of a gift coming alongside those who maybe didn't connect as well with the broader student body. As with many of us, we are on a journey at the points in life where we played here and Briercrest had a profound impact on us and the direction and purpose of our lives. This is evident as many have heard of the impact and legacy of his life."
Prior to enrolling at Briercrest, located in Caronport, Saskatchewan, Haugan had played in the Alberta Junior Hockey League before landing a scholarship south of the border where he played one season 1996-1997 with Northern Michigan University Wildcats. He would appear in six games with two goals and an assist recorded in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
Of the reason behind Haugan returning to Canada to continue his post-secondary education, Ramer surmised: "I believe in part, Darcy had lost some passion and purpose in the game and possibly in life. I think there were some key relationships in his life that encouraged him to consider Briercrest, both for the opportunity in the game but as much for him as a person.
"I believe he ultimately came to Briercrest out of obedience to where he felt God wanted him to be. He initially wrestled with not thinking he would be able to have as many opportunities in the game after Briercrest, if he came here."
Ramer said that Haugan had spoken this past February at the Briercrest College's graduating student/athlete's dinner.
"He shared about how many doors opened for him including playing in Sweden, to being prepared to step into coaching roles. He encouraged our team to seek to 'obey God' and the rest of stuff will take care of itself."
Haugan, born September 27, 1975, is survived by his wife Christina, sons Carson and Jackson.
Ramer concluded in saying: "This hit home for many of us – as a school, athletic department and certainly with our alumni. Discussions are being had as to what would be appropriate to do that would be honoring to person and legacy of Darcy."
A GoFund Me page for the Humboldt Broncos has raised nearly $14 million as of this writing. https://ca.gofundme.com/funds-for-humboldt-broncos