For a short time, the Penn State men’s hockey team was frightened.
It will be hard to shake the image from their heads of a teammate lying on the ice, with blood saturating his jersey and equipment.
“It was really, really scary,” forward David Goodwin said.
Sophomore defenseman David Thompson was cut by a skate blade in the abdomen during Friday’s 3-3 tie with Alaska-Anchorage in the Brice Alaska Goal Rush.
As it turns out, Thompson is doing well. He received 20 stitches, was back with the team the next night and joined them for a rather uncomfortable flight home Sunday morning.
The play happened early in the overtime period of the game, when he was in front of the net trying to clear away a Seawolves player who had skated in front of goalie Matthew Skoff.
Thompson finished the check, sending the player to the ice, but then landed on top of the player’s legs. He caught a skate blade in one of the few places on the body not covered by padding, just above the waistband of the pants.
Simultaneous with the fall and cut was Thompson having the wind knocked out of him, so he immediately began gasping for air, then rolled over, lifted his shirt and Skoff saw the laceration.
“Then I saw like his insides, basically, and I started freaking out,” Skoff said. “I started calling Justin (Rogers, the team trainer) over. They got to him.”
What was going through the head of coach Guy Gadowsky when he saw his goalie so animated calling for medical attention?
“Not good things,” Gadowsky said. “That was tough. I felt like I went white. My stomach, I felt like throwing up.”
The staff got to Thompson in a matter of seconds, and an ambulance was summoned.
It did not take long for the medical personnel to allay everyone’s fears that the injury was not as bad as first feared. Gadowsky said someone skated over to the Penn State bench to let them know Thompson was OK.
“Once we got word pretty quick it wasn’t bleeding profusely – we got word pretty quickly that he’s fine,” Gadowsky said. “For half-a-minute there it was scary.”
When he was taken from the ice on a stretcher, after being tended to for about 10 minutes, Thompson signaled to the crowd that he was all right.
The Penn State training staff did not make Thompson available to comment about the incident Tuesday.
While it may occur to the minds of some, Goodwin and Skoff each said they really do not think about getting cut by the sharp blades that is under every player’s feet.
“I don’t really think about it that much,” Goodwin said. “It’s weird. Probably one of the only places on your body where you don’t have protection is right here (pointing to the midsection), right between the shoulder pads and the pants. It’s just such a freak accident that doesn’t get thought about all that much. Maybe going forward maybe (I will) start thinking about it a little bit more.”
Thompson was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital in Fairbanks. The laceration cut through some muscle, but did not nick any organs. He got one long stitch internally, then 19 more to close the gash on the skin.
Goodwin, one of the sophomore’s roommates, said Thompson was back at the arena the next night, and a number of Alaska fans were checking on him while he was sitting in the bleachers watching the game. Goodwin also said Thompson has to hold his side and cover his mouth whenever someone tells a joke, and the Nittany Lion players immediately feel guilty for making him laugh.
Gadowsky said there was no timetable for Thompson’s return, but for a short time all of the Nittany Lions were concerned about their teammate and friend.
“It was very scary,” Skoff said. “I’ve never seen that happen before. I was just trying to get help to him as fast as possible.”
The Nittany Lions are back home this weekend, hosting Holy Cross at 7 p.m. Friday and noon Sunday at Pegula Ice Arena. … In other injury news, Gadowsky said forward Taylor Holstrom and Patrick Koudys each suffered “upper body injuries” on Friday and are “day-to-day.” Also, forward Jonathan Milley had a reoccurrence of a back injury, and his status is uncertain with no timetable to return set.