Former Beaver Valley Nitehawks forward Jaxon Joseph (middle) skated with twins Michael and Alan Pruss during the 2015-16 season.

Humboldt Broncos tragedy hits close to home

Former Nitehawk Jaxon Joseph one of 15 casualties in Humboldt Broncos crash

The Humboldt Broncos bus accident claimed the lives of 15 players, coaches, and support staff, including that of former Beaver Valley Nitehawks player Jaxon Joseph.

Joseph, 20, was on board the Saskatchewan junior A team’s bus that crashed near Nipawin, Sask. on Friday after a collision with a transport truck.

The incomprehensible tragedy hits close to home and is felt even more profoundly by Nitehawks supporters, coaches, and players that knew the Edmonton native.

“I, like everyone else, am feeling the emptiness, despair and helplessness that all of us feel,” said Nitehawks coach Terry Jones. “Many of his former teammates remained close with Jaxon, the Pruss twins, Kyle Hope, Sam Swanson, to name a few, are all grieving and struggling with this immense loss.

“Jaxon’s billet family is having a very difficult time as even though he was only here for five months, he formed a lifetime relationship with the Sedgwick family.”

The son of former NHLer Chris Joseph and wife Andrea, Jaxon first showed up at the Beaver Valley Arena as a walk-on at the Nitehawks Spring Camp.

“Jaxon made our team as an 18 year old from St. Albert,” said Jones. “He had been a house player throughout much of his minor hockey, and he and his father Chris showed up at our spring camp in Fruitvale without any fanfare or recruiting.

“Jaxon was a real tall, gangly young man with a larger than life smile and a remarkable ability to score. At that spring camp he scored goal after goal and caught the attention of our entire coaching staff, and we invited him to come back and try out for the team in late August.”

Joseph made the team and an immediate impact, tallying 23 points in 35 games for Beaver Valley in 2015-16, before being signed by the BCHL Surrey Eagles in January, 2016.

Jaxon skated with the Melfort Mustangs of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League in 2016-17, and was traded to Humboldt 16 games into the 2017-18 season. He had a breakout year with the Broncos posting 25 goals and 43 points in 38 games, while scoring seven times and adding five assists in nine playoff games.

Although his time with the Nitehawks was relatively brief, the young man made an impression.

“He made great friends on the team and was a champion ping pong player in the dressing room along with the Pruss twins,” said Jones. “He was a very happy go lucky kid, and just exuded happiness and positivity.”

Friendships run deep in hockey culture, and the bond created after riding hours on busses and playing your heart and soul out for each other is unique, one that often lasts a lifetime. Jaxon’s former Nitehawks teammates went on social media to extend their thoughts and condolences to the Joseph family.

Michael and Alan Pruss tweeted: “Rest easy Jax, thank you for impacting my life as well as countless others. My thoughts and prayers are with the Joseph family.”

Nitehawks captain Sam Swanson tweeted, “Rest in peace Jax, love you brother.”

And Kyle Hope said, “Rest in peace Jaxon, you were one of the happiest people I’ve ever met. Love ya buddy.”

While former Nitehawks goalie Tallon Kramer, upon hearing of the accident, wrote, “A snap that will never be opened. One praying and asking if you were okay. I remember giving you a fine credit the first day I joined the @BVNitehawks because you looked like a young Jaromir Jagr. RIP Jax. I hope you hog the ping pong table up there buddy.”

Jones also contacted the Joseph family with a message of support.

“I spoke with Jaxon’s father Chris this afternoon, obviously a very difficult and heartbreaking conversation and although tremendous sadness, I let him know that his former coaches, teammates and all members of the Nitehawk family that we stand with his family through their grief.”

A Go-Fund me page has been set up for the Broncos players’ families, while all of Canada mourns and sends their support to the community of Humbolt. www.gofundme.com/funds-for-humboldt-broncos

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