Former Surrey, B.C. player among 15 dead in Humboldt Broncos junior hockey bus crash
'The bus trips are the ones that are supposed to be special for the boys'
A hockey player who once played for a junior hockey team in Surrey, B.C., has been identified as one of 15 people who died when the Humboldt Broncos team bus collided with another vehicle on Friday.
Jaxon Joseph, who was 20 years old, played for the Surrey Eagles for the 2015-2016 season, said the team's general manager and former head coach Blaine Neufeld.
We weren’t together for a very long time, but Jaxon was and will always be a brother to me. JJ was loved greatly amongst his teammates. Hell of a friend and hockey player that lived every day with passion and love. Always had a smile on his face. Rest In Peace JJ <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HumboltStrong?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HumboltStrong</a>—@JRoss97_
Neufeld said Joseph was a forward on the team, and he was originally from Edmonton.
He was the son of former Edmonton Oilers defenceman Chris Joseph.
"Something particular about Jaxon was that he had a particular smile. He lit up the room," he said.
"His positivity, his excitement, his energy, his work ethic, brought a positive energy and experience to the guys. And I think that's why so many of them are so heartbroken to see the news. I think people that aren't part of Junior Hockey can't quite understand how tight these guys can be."
'We're still a team'
Paul McAvoy, 21, a former Surrey Eagles player, has many fond memories of Joseph.
"He made a tremendous impact not only on the ice, as a person in the locker room. He kind of lit up the room everywhere he went," McAvoy said, echoing his former coach's words.
Now a freshman at Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., he said he learned of the crash Friday night, then heard the news about Joseph.
"We had a group chat going with the rest of the former teammates to say 'we can get through this together. We're still a team,'" he said.
Was lucky enough to call JJ a teammate and my friend. He had the most incredible and brightest personality, and pulled the locker room together. Rest In Peace brother, I’ll miss you. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HumboldtStrong?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HumboldtStrong</a> <a href="https://t.co/roiriM7jHN">https://t.co/roiriM7jHN</a>—@mcavoy05
'Isn't supposed to happen'
Neufeld said the Surrey Eagles typically travel by bus 30 times a season. He said as general manager, he tries to minimize team travel when driving conditions are dangerous.
"The sad part about it is, the bus trips are the ones that are supposed to be special for the boys," said Neufeld.
It is a hockey story, but it's not a hockey story, it's the story of the whole country- Vancouver Giants president Ron Toigo
McAvoy said the bus trips are "honestly one of my favourite parts of playing hockey. But you just never think something like this is going to happen."
Vancouver Giants president Ron Toigo said that goalie, Jacob Wassermann, who started the year with the Vancouver Giants was on the bus, but survived the crash. He said his team has nine boys from Saskatchewan on their roster.
"The hockey community is very small, it's very intertwined."
Any player from Saskatchewan is going to know those players if they're of a similar age," he said.
"It is a hockey story, but it's not a hockey story, it's the story of the whole country. Hockey is the fabric of the whole Canadian community and I think everyone is feeling extreme sorrow today for the whole province of Saskatchewan and the players of Humboldt."