Hockey sticks and personal messages of support cover the front of Frank and Betty Thomas’ home in Brandon, Man.

Frank and Betty Thomas are Evan Thomas’ grandparents. The 18-year-old Humboldt Broncos hockey player was one of 16 people killed in the team bus collision, a week ago Friday.

“A common theme of humour and fun, and caring and taking care of others and picking others up when they’re down,” said Frank Thomas in a phone call with CTV News Saturday from Saskatchewan where Evan grew up.

“I’ve got some great stories that have come from some mates over the last little while … that speak to how Evan cared, and the new kid on the team that Evan was the first to take care of him, make sure he felt at home, a powerful story,” he said.

Thomas also described Evan as competitive, both on and off the ice, a person who loved being part of a team, and an excellent student.

“There’s no doubt in my mind, when he would have chosen his next step of education, he would have been good at it. He would have excelled.”


Noreen and David Maguire have been friends with Frank and Betty Thomas for 20 years, and had met Evan a few times.

When people began putting sticks out for Humboldt across the country, the Thomas’ asked the Maguires to do the same at their house for Evan and the others who didn't survive.

Five hockey sticks turned to 15, then 29, one for each person on the bus before word spread to even more people. By Saturday, 68 hockey sticks had been placed outside of the home.

Noreen sent photos of the memorial to Betty.

“Her words when she saw this, ‘wow’,” said Noreen Maguire. “Just overwhelmed in a good good way and totally in awe of this and so so happy.”

Neighbour Linda McKinnon tied ribbons, mounted lettering and hung a collage of photos.

12-year-old Justin Sharp lives nearby. He placed a stick and drew a poster.

"These people are kind. They are the best neighbours you could have asked for and just seeing them down, having their grandkid die, that's crazy," said Sharp.

“It shows the compassion for sports itself and the loss of these fine young people,” said David Maguire.

A celebration of life for Evan Thomas will take place Monday at 1 p.m. at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.