Remembering Humboldt: Central Illinois Flying Aces honor their d - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Remembering Humboldt: Central Illinois Flying Aces honor their distant brothers

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WEEK) -- -

The Canadian bus crash that took the lives of 15 people has shocked the worldwide hockey community. For junior hockey players like the Humboldt Broncos, bus travel is a way of life. 

Playing junior hockey is a grind. Just ask the Central Illinois Flying Aces, who play in the USHL. Road trips can last up to 16 hours. It's the time where a team becomes a family.

"You get to learn stuff about people you wouldn't know just by going to practice with them everyday," University of Maine commit, Simon Butala, said. "So, they can be tiring sometimes, but it's also a blessing to be able to learn everything about your teammates."

For parents and Flying Aces coach, Mike Watt, who has children of his own, the worry about his 25 hockey kids never goes away.

"Just in terms of the process within professional sports, and even amateur sports now, there's a lot of travel involved," Flying Aces coach, Mike Watt, said. "So you do have those worries and I think the worst nightmare for any parent, coach, community, it happened in Saskatchewan." 

The Peoria Rivermen know grueling bus rides. If you've played hockey, you know, road trips are a sacred part of the game.

"We always compared us a little to the army cause their always together in bunkers," Rivermen coach, Jean-Guy Trudel, said. "It's the same thing on a bus trip. You're with each other, you know, 12-13 hour trips, so you don't have a choice but to be close."

January 9, 2017, after 14 hours on the road, a charter bus carrying the SPHL's Columbus Cottonmouths flipped over on its side on an exit ramp less than 10 miles from the Civic Center. Thankfully, there were no fatalities , but 24 were hurt.

Toughness and hockey are intertwined. But playing two days later? With the help of other minor league teams, they did skate 48-hours later.

"There's no parallels between hockey and freak accident like that, which is just a terrible tragedy," University of Notre Dame commit, Charlie Raith, said. "That's kind of absurd to think that a hockey player would be able to handle that any better than anyone else." 

Hockey sticks left out on the front porch and next to rinks honor the Broncos. The act has spread across social media using the hashtag put your sticks out.

It all started from TSN Broadcaster, Brian Munz, who went to high school in Humboldt. Munz tweeted out a photo his high school friend sent him of a hockey stick sitting outside his home. Below the picture he wrote, 'Leaving it out on the porch tonight. The boy might need it, wherever they are.

"We did that as a team last night," Butala said. "I think most people on our team did that to just kinda show our awareness for the Broncos and just be supportive of everyone there."

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