LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

By Tracy Clemons

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. (KSDK) - An ice hockey tournament got off to a fiery start for a team visiting Chesterfield Friday.

The Grand Valley State University hockey team's bus caught on fire in the parking lot at Hardee's Ice Plex while they prepared to play their opening game in the ACHA Division II National Tournament.

"I looked up over the rink and saw some black smoke and was like 'that can't be our bus,'" said Ian Hamilton. "So our whole team just runs over there and there it is...our bus was on fire. Half the team started sprinting, freaking out."

"When I came out, it was engulfed in flames and the bus driver was trying to get into the bus," shares coach Mike Forbes. "There was a moderate explosion in the back, something let loose and we backed away."

The fire broke out sometime around 3 p.m. Friday. Fire officials say it took about 15 minutes to put out.

Ian Hamilton's father, Brad, saw it as he was pulling up.

"There's a few damaged pillows and blankets, and a dampened interior of the bus. But none of the spirits of these Lakers will be dampened by this," he said.

While the shell of their bus sat in the parking lot, the Lakers played on.

"Anybody would be affected by it. I'm happy we got the win. It was a good game. Sloppily played, I think, on our side and I think this incident today had a lot to do with it," said Coach Forbes.

"You gotta go through adversity. It was a tough thing for our team to go through but I think we handled it well. We won the game," said player Brad Wilhelm.

After they got the win, Coach Mike Forbes got to reflect on what could have been. He says it was a blessing it happened where it did.

"We could have been on the road, we could have had players hurt, we might have gotten trapped on the bus. You never know what would have happened," he said.

The team got a replacement bus by the time their game ended.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.