Game one of the Canalta Cup Finals has been set for Saturday night in Nipawin and there is no shortage of emotions surrounding the game.
The best-of-seven series between the Hawks and Estevan Bruins begins just over a week after the tragic bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team. Hawks head coach Doug Johnson said his team has been anxious to get back on the ice.
"Then you have a sense of purpose and you can get back to pushing forward because when you get knocked down, the only way to grow is to get back up again," he said.
On Wednesday, all 12 appointed governors for the SJHL made the decision to finish the season. Johnson said he supports the call.
"Yeah 100 per cent, to the point where Estevan and us would have played even without their blessing," he said.
Johnson says there will be a moment of silence before the game Saturday night, as well as a tribute to the Broncos. The 50/50 from the game will be donated to Broncos head coach Darcy Haugan's widow, as will the pre-sold tickets from the cancelled game five of the semifinal.
Both teams will also wear patches that will be sewn on to their jerseys, and the Hawks have ordered green helmets to wear for game one, which will be donated to the Broncos for next season.
"It was just something we've talked about as a staff and obviously we reached out to a few people in Humboldt," Johnson said. "We wanted to make sure we had their blessing and then CCM and Source for Sports in P.A. have been gracious enough to donate the helmets and visors."
Media from across the province, and possibly the country are expected to be in attendance for game one.
"We wish the media was here for obviously different reasons. We wish the media was here because they were excited about the league final but it is what it is, we can't do anything about it, it's just something the guys have to deal with and it's the same for both teams," Johnson said.
As of Thursday afternoon, there was standing room only left for Hawks fans at Centennial Arena. A special section has been assigned for Bruins fans and fans from Humboldt.
Games one and two of the series have been scheduled to be played in Nipawin, while games three and four have been set for Estevan.
- With files from Nathan Kanter
On Twitter: @nigelmaxwell
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