Just days after a Minnesota teenager's plight with a devastating spinal injury suffered in an accidental yet dangerous youth hockey check received national attention, another almost identical incident just miles away left a second teenage hockey star hospitalized after she had sent a Facebook message to friends before the game saying that she would be playing in honor of Jack Jablonski, the teen paralyzed earlier.
As reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minneapolis CBS affiliate WCCO and a handful of other Twin Cities media outlets, St. Croix (Minn.) Luther High senior Jenna Privette suffered a serious injury during her Minnehaha (Minn.) Saints club hockey game against the St. Paul (Minn.) Blades. After firing a shot on goal, Privette was reportedly checked into the boards by an opposing defender. According to St. Croix athletic director Carl Lemke, the high school senior almost immediately lost feeling throughout most of her body.
"The system needs to be reformed,'' Penny Privette, Jenna Privette's mother, told the Star Tribune. "[Checking] is getting so out of control."
Fortunately, there is good news. Privette's father and coach told the Star Tribune that his daughter had regained feeling in her upper body and that an MRI had revealed no spinal cord breaks, but he still sounded a general sense of concern over the incident, particularly because it came at a time when the entire Minnesota hockey scene had focused on trying to avoid dangerous checking in games.
"She's irritable and in a lot of pain," Dan Privette, Jenna Privette's father, told the Star Tribune, "which is, in a way, kind of good."
"She's had an MRI, and it did not show breaks in the spinal cord, which makes it different than Jablonski's [injury]," Lemke told the Star Tribune. "It's an injury she's had in the past. Hopefully, it will improve."
While the relative odds of Privette's complete recovery are good -- the teen still had not regained feeling in her legs as of Sunday, but the lack of a spinal break is seen as a positive sign for full future mobility -- the fact that she would need to be hospitalized because of a dangerous hit in the immediate aftermath of Jablonski's injury is a truly disconcerting trend for youth hockey in Minnesota and, perhaps, nationwide.
If anything, Privette's injury has led to further debate in Minnesota, where coaches are now openly discussing what can be done to help legislate against any potential dangerous hits, all in the name of helping keep prep hockey players safe on the ice. While no video was made public of the hit that injured Jablonski, it's clear from the footage directly below that the check that befell Privette was a dangerous check from behind.
"I don't know how you couldn't have some hard questions after this,'' Benilde-St. Margaret's (Minn.) High coach Ken Pauly, who was Jablonski's coach, told the Star Tribune. "My take is, you can't legislate against tragedy. But what can you do to lessen the likelihood that a tragedy will occur?
"That said, the permissive culture of checking from behind is an issue. Why would that not be treated like fighting? Do we need rule changes? No. We need a change in mentality."
Added Jablonski's mother:
"We just want to make sure this doesn't happen again,'' Leslie [Jablonski] said last week. "And if they keep playing the game the way it is, there's going to be more attacks in situations like this."