Players and personnel with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders are crediting their bus driver with keeping them out of harm’s way when they were involved in a multi-vehicle accident on Saturday afternoon.
The Crusaders had played in Olds on Friday night and were en route to Blackfalds for a Saturday night date with the Bulldogs.
The Crusaders didn’t make it as they ended up among numerous vehicles involved in accidents on No. 2 Highway south of Edmonton.
Things were fine until visibly turned sour south of Ponoka and the road iced up.
“We rolled up on a massive pile-up where our bus driver just told everyone to hold on,” Evan McFeeters, the Crusaders’ associate general manager and head coach, told Adam Lachacz of CTV News Edmonton. “He did an incredible job of keeping us safe and upright, weaving through the mayhem in front of us.
“We saw it all . . . cars doing 360s smashing into each other, semis jackknifing, but our bus driver is the hero of the day for us.
“Keeping us upright when we hit the ditch and avoiding collisions along the way till we finally came to a stop.”
(Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to learn the bus driver’s name, just that his first name is Robert. So, Robert, well done!)
There weren’t any injuries to anyone on the Crusaders’ bus.
Eventually, school buses were sent from Ponoka and the team ended up spending the night in the Ponoka Centennial Centre. They returned to Sherwood Park on a different bus on Sunday afternoon.
Lachacz’s complete story is right here.
Inclement weather resulting in horrendous driving conditions prevented two WHL teams from getting home following Saturday night games. . . . The Saskatoon Blades beat the host Brandon Wheat Kings, 4-1, and then headed for home along the Trans-Canada Highway. They got as far as Moosomin, before pulling in for the night. The Blades finally arrived home on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.
At the same time, the Swift Current Broncos, who had beaten the Pats, 5-2, in Regina, chose not to even try to get home after the game, hunkering down in a local hotel instead.
The junior B Castlegar Rebels of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League were in the middle of it all, too, because driving conditions in B.C.’s Interior have been horrendous for a few days now. After playing in Kamloops on Friday night and 100 Mile House on Saturday night, the Rebels arrived home on Sunday and tweeted: “Special thanks to our bus driver Craig Luke for his great work in snowy road conditions.”
How poor were driving conditions in the Regina area. Kevin Gallant made the 45-minute drive from Regina to Moose Jaw for the Saturday night game between the Warriors and Red Deer Rebels. His son, Matthew, is a sophomore defenceman with the Warriors.
When Kevin arrived home after the game, here’s what he wrote on Facebook:
“Made it home, drove 40 kilometres an hour sometimes 30 kilometres an hour. About a 90-minute drive. . . . I will never do another drive like that again, not used to it. Got behind a vehicle and did the slow drive, sometimes no visibility, looked like a few cars in ditch.”
Been there, done that! But I only did it once. When I was with the Regina Leader-Post, I once headed for Moose Jaw for a Saturday night game. Things were fine on the way there. But it was ugly going back with snow and more snow and wind and more wind. I was fortunate to tuck in behind a big rig and follow the taillights all the way to Regina.
Yes, that was a lesson learned.
Meanwhile, in Kamloops and area, we had a dump of snow late Thursday and into Friday. But it didn’t stick around too long. Then it snowed some more and, yes, there is more in the forecast. People here like to giggle about what goes on in Vancouver on the odd occasion when it snows there. But, truth be told, things are no better in Kamloops on the occasion of that first snowfall. The Sahali and Aberdeen areas have some steep hills that always seem to turn messy when things get slippery. And this time it wasn’t any different. Then, of course, there is the Coquihalla Highway that always seems to end up being shut down a time or three in one or both directions. Such has been the case for the past two or three days, and we now are left to see what Monday brings.
This weekend, however, seems to have brought some ugliness with it.
There is a twitter account — Kamscan (@Kamscan) — whose operator monitors road conditions. On Sunday, the account featured these tweets:
“And the entitled are showing their colours . . . just passed a plow truck on the right and gave the operator the finger.”
“Operator was mentioning vehicles were right on his ass. Guess some can lose the time and deductible on their windshields.”
“And a second one just passed him and probably touched the tip of the plow.”
“Yesterday a plow operator had stuff thrown at him as he was passing a trucker who had hit the ditch.”
The WHL has eight mid-week games on its upcoming schedule and two stand out among all the rest. Those two games will feature the Red Deer Rebels in Winnipeg to face the Ice on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. . . . The Rebels are on a franchise-record 15-game winning streak. Yes, they have won their first 15 games — the WHL record of 22 is held by the 1967-68 Estevan Bruins. . . . Meanwhile, all the Ice, which has won 10 straight, has done is go 15-1-0, despite opening with 13 consecutive road games. . . . Red Deer’s freshman goaltenders have some pretty fine numbers — Rhett Stoesser is 5-0-0, 1.40, .934, while Kyle Kelsey is 10-0-0, 1.80, .935. . . . Veteran Daniel Hauser of the Ice goes into the doubleheader at 11-0-0, 2.35, .920. His running mate, freshman Dawson Cowan, is 3-1-0, 2.52, .901.
SUNDAY IN THE WHL:
The Portland Winterhawks opened an early 4-0 lead — thanks to three PP goals — and then had to go to a shootout to beat the visiting Spokane Chiefs, 8-7. . . . F Jack O’Brien’s second goal of the game gave Portland that 4-0 lead at 13:28 of the first period. . . . Spokane F Ty Cheveldayoff tied it, 7-7, at 19:25 of the third period. It was his third goal of the game and seventh of the season. It also was the second multi-goal game of his 92-game WHL career; he had a two-goal outing last season. . . . Portland got shootout goals from F Marcus Nguyen and D Luca Cagnoni, with F Raegan Wiles counting for Spokane. . . . F Gabe Klassen had a goal and three assists for Portland. . . . The Chiefs got two goals and two assists from Wiles and a goal and three helpers from F Blake Swetlikoff. . . . The Winterhawks (11-1-2) moved into sole possession of first place in the Western Conference, two points ahead of the Everett Silvertips (11-5-0). Portland has points in six straight games (4-0-2). . . . The Chiefs (3-10-1) have lost eight in a row (0-7-1).
THINKING OUT LOUD — If you were watching the CFL game from Vancouver on Sunday, were you wondering how much pride Dave Dickenson, the Calgary Stampeders’ head coach, had to swallow before getting QB Bo Levi Mitchell into the game? And if Dickenson was going to send him in to open the fourth quarter, why didn’t he make the change at halftime? . . . One other thing about Mitchell: How do you think he’ll look in Saskatchewan Roughriders’ colours? . . . The Boston Bruins tried to right a wrong on Sunday night. We are left to wonder how long it will be before the stink goes away and they are able to patch the giant hole that has been left in their credibility. . . . The Prince George Cougars (9-7-0) have won three in a row and woke up Sunday morning atop the B.C. Division. They will visit the Kelowna Rockets on Wednesday, then head home for a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader with the Vancouver Giants. Have to wonder if this early success will create some interest in Cougartown?
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