On April 6, the city of Humboldt in Saskatchewan, Canada, was forever changed when a bus carrying the local junior hockey team collided with a tractor-trailer killing 15.
The loss quickly traveled across the hockey community, with multiple professional teams laying out sticks to honor the fallen, including the Milwaukee Admirals.
"I think regardless of if you're in the hockey business or not this story your heart. We had a group text go around of all the sticks that we put out on the front door with candles," said Dean Evason, Milwaukee Admirals head coach.
"They leave them out and we say wherever you boys are, you may need them, they're ready for you here. I got a little thing on my stick here that says 'Humboldt Broncos Strong,' play with that on there. Just a reminder of how precious life is and how quickly it can change," said Justin Kirkland, Admirals left wing.
With a handful of players, along with Justin Kirkland and Coach Dean Evason, all from different provinces across Canada, to say this hit close to home would be an extreme understatement.
"One of the first things I did was call my parents. I know it hits close to home for them, with how many times I've got on the bus. I had a good friend of mine whose brother was on the bus and luckily he survived. He is stable. But it's defiantly been a tough time for me, and I'm not even really that connected to it so I can only imagine what the families are going through," said Kirkland.
With the playoffs officially out of the picture, the Admirals will cherish their last two games of the season, knowing that there are some still fighting to touch the ice again.
"We are not going to take anything for granted, this is a game that we love to play. All of us Admirals are thinking about them," said Kirkland.