Why Wear a Neck Guard
Hockey is a game of speed and skill, it necessitates quick reactions which can change the game in an instant. Because a skate blade works much like a scalpel - except it's made to cut ice - a skate blade cut to any part of the body is almost always a clean, deep laceration requiring immediate attention. Such lacerations are happening with more frequency because of the speed of the game. Let the quick reactions of your hockey player(s) be those of goals and celebrations, protect them as best as you can.
Neck injuries from Skate blades in ice hockey: a report of three cases
A. Vergis, T. Räsänen, L. Hernefalk
First published: December 1996
MHSAA Neck Guard Requirement Rooted in 1999 'Impossible to Forget' Injury
By Ron Pesch
FEBRUARY 3, 2022
Dan DiCristofaro has made it a mission to remind schools, coaches, athletic directors, and other officials of the need to enforce an equipment rule, added to the MHSAA hockey rule book more than 20 years ago.
“Officials are not trying to give out misconduct penalties,” wrote DiCristofaro in a recent email, “but the avoidance by so many players to wear this piece of equipment as intended in its unaltered state or to even wear a neck guard at all has become almost the norm instead of the exception.”
“This is mandatory,” emphasized the long-time hockey official during a recent conversation. “It’s required, not recommended. Required.”
As a witness to an unforgettable occurrence during a game, DiCristofaro wants others to do what they can to reduce the odds of that moment happening again.
H.S. Player Survives Skate Blade To Jugular
June 30, 2017
Cutting Demonstration Video
Hawk out for rest of the season due to blade slice in neck
Tim Wirzburger, Crier Staff
February 28, 2013
Source: The Saint Anselm Crier
The Men’s Hockey team faced quite a scare last weekend in their game against Southern Maine as freshman defenseman Tyler Estee got his neck cut by a skate in a fluke accident that ended the season early for the talented blue-liner.
The Hawks were in the defensive zone and a player from Southern Maine attempted a wrap-around on their net. The goalie went down to stop the shot and the Southern Maine player went head over heels over him. His feet were in the air and Estee, who moved in to stop the play, got a skate blade right in the neck.
The Hawks moved the puck out of their zone, but Estee was behind, dropping his stick and gloves as he reached for his neck, knowing something was wrong. As he pulled his hands away and saw how much blood covered his hands and jersey, he skated over to the bench in a state of shock.
The trainer, Neil Duval, pulled him aside and immediately recognized the severity of the injury. He brought him down the tunnel and covered him with a towel. He then cut the jersey off him so Tyler wasn’t restricted by his equipment.
“At first I made jokes about fixing me so I could go back out on the bench with the team,” said Estee, “But I could tell by the look on his face that it was severe and I was done.”
The skate blade had cut through two layers of tissue in his neck, but luckily there was no serious damage to the carotid artery. Estee was put on a stretcher and brought out to an ambulance, but not before giving a thumbs-up to the crowd to let his friends and teammates know that he was going to be okay.
He was still bleeding profusely in the ambulance and in the hospital until the doctor could clean it up. He numbed it and quickly went to work stitching Tyler’s neck back up. He has 3 interior stiches and 9 on the outside.
Unfortunately for Estee, his season is over. However, the situation could have been much worse and he considers himself very fortunate.
“I’m just very lucky that it wasn’t more severe. It could have been a lot worse,” said Estee. “I’m also very thankful to Neil and the medical staff for their work.”
Some people might shy away from it, but Estee was curious and wanted to see exactly what happened in the play that caused his injury. He sat with the coaches and watched video footage from the game and watched himself as reacted to the injury.
“It was pretty intense watching the video and just seeing my reaction. My heart was beating so fast just seeing the play and how much in shock I was. It was scary.”
Estee will be taking it easy for a while to let his neck tissue recover. He still can’t work out on the bikes because if he gets his heart rate up too much he might start bleeding again. However, he will slowly be working up his cardio so he can hit the ice again.
Hockey is a game of speed and skill and necessitates quick reactions that can change the game in an instant. The demands of the sport require discipline of the mind and, sometimes, sacrifice of the body. Despite his setback, Estee will be back next season with a battle scar and a deeper commitment to the game he loves.
Click here to read a neck injury article from The Saint Anselm Crier.