It’s a Canadian hockey rite. Junior teams criss-cross the country through all kinds of weather and highway conditions.
For those in the bus driver’s seat, it’s just part of the job, but the memory of the Humboldt tragedy is never too distant in the rear-view mirror.
On Feb. 24, Free Press photographer John Woods climbed aboard with driver Roger Hamelin and the Steinbach Pistons for a MJHL road trip to Waywayseecappo First Nation.
Hamelin’s day began at 9:30 a.m. with a bus inspection at the Beaver Bus Lines depot in St. Boniface before travelling an hour south to get the team.
It was supposed to be a four-hour trip to Wawayseecappo, not including a scheduled pre-game meal in Neepawa. But by noon, the bus was stuck in a long convey of cars and semi-trucks at Headingley after the Trans-Canada Highway was closed for 3.5 hours.
Hamelin finally got the Pistons to their game, although it started two hours later than scheduled.
Following the 1-0 loss to the host Wolverines, the boys on the bus began their journey home, arriving safe and sound at 3 a.m. the following day.