From Tragedy to Triumph: Humboldt Broncos Survivor Aims for 2026 Paralympics

It’s difficult to believe, but next month marks the fifth anniversary of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, a tragic event that claimed the lives of 16 people in the blink of an eye.

The 13 survivors have mostly moved on with their lives over the last five years, paying tribute to their lost friends and teammates along the way. Former Broncos defenseman Ryan Straschnitzki was paralyzed from the chest down in the accident, and you couldn’t blame him for preferring to live a quiet life away from the spotlight.
But that is not how ‘Straz’ wishes to live his life. He sees his tragedy as an opportunity to reach out to others and inspire them to be better in their own lives.

The now 23-year-old participates in public speaking events, and this past weekend at the Yorkton Secon Maulers sportsman dinner, he announced his plans to overcome his struggle mindset and earn a spot on Team Canada’s 2026 Paralympic sledge hockey (Para Hockey) team.

“It’s not falling into a fixed mindset,” he said, adding, “when you do fall into a fixed mindset you are often unchangeable in your approach.”

“At the end of the day I’m an athlete. I want to get back to hockey. It’s so much of who I am,” said Straschnitzki.

“I continue to work on it. Hopefully I’ll win a medal one day,” he said.

Again it’s about mindset and knowing “there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said, adding that is something coaches, teammates and family have helped instill in him for years.

“Determination is playing through the hard times,” he said, adding “when life gets tough” it’s time “to continue to work hard, to persevere.”

This kid is a true inspiration.

I don’t think anyone would blame him if he went on to live a quiet life after witnessing and being a part of such a horrific event. After everything he’s been through, I can’t imagine putting myself out there like he has.
I know we use words like “warrior” to describe hockey players and their level of toughness, but Straz is a true warrior. Without a doubt, one of the toughest young men in hockey.

Igor Burdetskiy

Igor Burdetskiy

Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & CEO at Hooked on Hockey Magazine
I grew up playing Ball and Roller Hockey day and night somewhat religiously throughout elementary and middle school. The two don't compare though when I lace up the skates and hit the ice. I live and breathe hockey beyond the perspective of "it's just a game" and I will gladly talk hockey for hours with anyone. Hockey is more than just a lifestyle, it's a culture of passionate people who make memories every time the puck is dropped. Hockey has not only helped me get through some of the hardest times in life but has created some of the best memories to date. Want to talk hockey with me? Shoot me an email: iburdetskiy@hookedonhockey.com and let's talk some hockey!
Igor Burdetskiy
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