The Toledo Blade reported last week on devastating injuries to two youth hockey players - ages 14 and 18 - that occurred in high school games on the same day. Both players were checked by opposing players. Both fell to the ice. Both suffered serious paralysis.
The older player, Dustin Wells, initially had no feeling in his right leg. The injuries of the younger player, Kyle Cannon, were even more serious. He's hospitalized with a broken neck. A few days after the incident, he'd regained some feeling in his abdomen and arms, The Blade reported on December 6.
The injured players weren't the only lives affected. The player who skated into Kyle Cannon, causing him to fall hard on the ice, is being investigated by police after Kyle's father filed a complaint with the local police department. And Kyle's teammates met with counselors to help them deal with their grief - and to help get them back on the ice for a game four days later.
Whether these injuries were accidents or could have been avoided is for Toledo school officials to look into. However, this is a time when youth hockey officials nationally should be evaluating how to make the sport safer. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following data:
-Two hundred thousand children play youth hockey in the U.S.
-Among youth players, 9 to 15 years old, head and neck injuries accounted for 23 per cent of all hockey injuries, according to a study.
-Body checking made up 86 per cent of injuries that occur during games.
-Body checking should not be allowed in youth hockey for children age 15 years or younger.
-Youth hockey programs need to educate players, coaches, and parents about the importance of knowing and following the rules as well as the dangers of body checking another player from behind.