A Cape Breton man, who says the community of Humboldt, Saskatchewan made him the person he is today, is about to return to the town, grieving the loss of 16 members of its hockey team.

It’s been more than thirty years since Bill McDougall laced up his skates for the Broncos, still the tragic bus crash hits close to home.

“I was there a few years back,” the former player says, “and it was a happy moment for me, and this time it won’t be.” 

McDougall and former members of the team are planning a trip to Humboldt to support the victims and their families.

In the days following the crash, McDougall has been reconnecting with his old line mates, talking about his playing days and the many hours spent travelling the Prairie highways.

“That bus is a sanctuary,” He says. “It’s almost like a dressing room. It’s a little bit laid back on the bus because the dressing room is work time, but the bus, everybody on there is family.”

In 1986, a bus crash involving the Swift Current Broncos claimed the lives of four people, at that time McDougall played for Humboldt.

He remembers the town of nearly 6000 people coming together to help, a gesture that is now being returned.

“They deserve it,” he adds. “For so many years they’ve raised so many good hockey players and turned young boys into men. It’s just nice to see the support.”

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.