Less than a period after scoring his team's first goal on Friday, a Minnesota high school hockey player was tragically paralyzed in a holiday tournament hockey game.
As first reported by MnHockeyHub.com and the Benilde-St. Margaret's (Minn.) High boys hockey site, and later confirmed by the Associated Press, Red Knights junior varsity star Jack Jablonski was paralyzed when he was accidentally checked from behind into the end boards during a Holiday Hockey Classic Tournament game against Wayzata (Minn.) High on Friday night. The 16-year-old sophomore reportedly collapsed motionless on the ice immediately after the hit, and was carted off the ice and immediately sent to a nearby hospital.
Benilde-St. Margaret's junior varsity hockey coach Chris McGowan said that Jablonski has been unable to move his legs and has experienced only slight movement in his hands and fingers since the on-ice injury.
According to MnHockeyHub, the forward spent the first day of 2012 at Hennepin County Medical Center, where his recovery from two broken bones in his lower neck -- and what doctors expect is a bruised spinal cord -- is currently progressing at an unknown pace. Jablonski's CaringBridge.org charity page said that he was put in a Halo apparatus to stabilize his head and spinal cord, with MnHockeyHub noting that doctors refuse to speculate on his potential recovery until after swelling in his injuries has reduced.
Still, while the setback could be completely devastating for any athlete, McGowan reported that the sophomore was surprisingly upbeat and aware in his hospital room on Sunday afternoon, with surgery to repair his broken vertebrae likely to move ahead as soon as the swelling subsides.
"His spirits were really quite good. He's talking. He knows who everybody is. He's laughing," McGowan told MnHockeyHub.com.
That's a touching sentiment for all hockey fans, with hope now centered on a full recovery for the budding high school hockey and tennis player.
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