A North Dakota hockey team visited the home of a grieving opposing player hours before game time to deliver flowers and offer condolences.
As the Grand Forks Herald reports, Red River High School (Grand Forks) junior defenseman Tanner Bernhardson was preparing for his game against Sheyenne (West Fargo, N.D.) on Thursday afternoon. It had been just three days since Bernhardson’s mother, Pam, died after a two-and-a-half year battle with cancer.
While sitting at home Thursday afternoon, he got quite the surprise from an unexpected visitor. The Sheyenne team bus pulled up at his house at about 4:30 p.m. As the Herald reports, Sheyenne players filed out of the bus carrying flowers and brought them to Tanner at the front door, offering condolences.
The two teams were facing each other just a few hours later.
“Pretty incredible,” Tanner’s father, Duane, told the Herald. “We knew our hockey community was pretty strong. We met a lot of friends. We’ve been involved with hockey not only in Grand Forks but across the state. It’s something we’ve enjoyed because of the people and stuff like this.
“It’s a surprise, but it’s not, you know?”
Tanner Bernhardson told the Herald that the first two people he recognized walking up to the front door were Sheyenne head coach David Benson and junior defenseman Blaze Ackerland.
As it turned out, the visit from them opposition wasn’t the only surprise for the Bernhardsons on Thursday. While the Bernhardsons were at the rink watching Red River’s 8-0 win over Sheyenne, a number of hockey moms that knew the family from their youth hockey days went to their house, cleaned it from top-to-bottom and made sure they were stocked up on everything for the next month.
“The hockey community is the gift that keeps on giving,” Duane told the Herald.
Benson said the flower delivery was something the Sheyenne team did without hesitation.
“I think it’s just something you do,” Benson told the Herald. “It’s a good family. I’m a little hesitant to even talk to anybody about it. It’s not about us. It’s about the family.”
Pam Bernhardson’s visitation was Friday night, and the funeral service was held Saturday morning.