Pandas hockey player grateful after team escapes bus collision with no injuries

A University of Alberta Pandas hockey player described the panic and confusion when the team's bus sideswiped a parked semi-trailer on the highway, sending glass flying into the bus.

Team's coach bus sideswiped a semi-trailer on Highway 2 coming home from game Friday night

Dayna Owen, first row centre, a goalie with the University of Alberta Pandas hockey team, said shattered glass rained down on her when the team's bus collided with a semi-trailer on Highway 2 this weekend. (Supplied/Dayna Owen)

On a coach bus hurtling down a dark stretch of Alberta highway in the middle of the night, Dayna Owen settled in for a nap.

The fourth-year University of Alberta Pandas hockey team goalie was used to these long trips. The ride was quiet. They'd played earlier Friday night and lost to the University of Calgary Dinos. 

The team was about two hours into their journey home.

Players shifted in their seats, pressed cheeks against windows. The icy conditions they'd encountered when they left Calgary had finally cleared. They unbuckled seatbelts. 

Owen had laid her head on the seat next to her when an explosion broke the silence. Broken glass rained down on her as cold wind whipped around her.

She screamed, her teammates screamed. She grabbed hold of someone.

"It was something else," she said.

"It almost felt like we had already been rolling. It felt like the gravel was coming in and there was snow and we didn't know what was going on. It just felt like it was never going to stop."

It was around 1:30 a.m. Just south of Leduc, the bus clipped a semi-trailer parked on the side of the highway. The driver managed to pull the bus over and brought it to a stop. 

Owen didn't immediately know what happened. The windows on the right side of the bus were blown out. Shattered glass covered the seats and her teammates. It was like a movie, she thought.

They checked on each other, they checked with their coach, they checked in with the bus driver. They hugged him.

It just felt like it was never going to stop.- Dayna Owen, goalie

None of the players were seriously injured. Two were taken to hospital to have their eyes flushed out, but they'll be fine, Owen said. They were looking out the windows when the glass shattered in their faces.

RCMP said weather and road conditions aren't believed to have been factors in the collision. They do not anticipate charges will be laid.

Owen called her family in Calgary. I'm fine, everyone's fine, but there's been an accident, she told them.

Family and friends drove to the scene of the collision to pick up the players, Owen said. 

The Pandas postponed their home game Saturday night. They got together, talked about what happened and what could have happened. Head coach Howie Draper bought the team Blizzards, and they spoke with their sports psychologist.

The team's next game will be at home, and Owen says she's grateful they don't have to be on a bus again soon. The next time they board the bus, she says the team will likely have their seatbelts buckled the entire time. 

"It's not going to be the most comfortable thing in the world, but I think after being through it, it's something that should be done for sure," she said.

"It's hard when you think about it like that, how it could have been. [I'm] just super thankful that we're all here and we can tie up our skates again."