SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM)--A Massachusetts high school hockey player is paralyzed from the waist down after being critically hurt this past weekend at a tournament. His injuries are sending shockwaves through the local hockey community, as this is the second player in the state to suffer debilitating injuries in a matter of months.
Two high school hockey players in Massachusetts were left paralyzed from their injuries just this year. We spoke to a local hockey coach who said in his 50 years in the business he has never seen this before.
"As a coach and a parent that’s just not what you want to hear or see," said John Arnold, general manager and Assistant Coach for the Western Mass Wizards Hockey team.
The Massachusetts hockey community is in disbelief after Jake Thibeault, an 18-year-old Milton Academy hockey player, suffered a severe spinal cord injury this past weekend, leaving him with no movement from the waist down. This is happening just seven months after AJ Quetta suffered a similar injury while playing against Pope Francis in Springfield.
John Arnold, a youth hockey coach with the Western Mass Wizards told us besides Boston University hockey player Travis Roy’s notable injury in 1995, it is unheard of to have two players injured within the same year.
"I haven’t heard or seen major incident like the one that happened to AJ Quetta and then recently this Thibeault kid from Milton Academy," said Arnold.
Western Mass News reported exclusively on Quetta’s journey. Since his months-long recovery and physical therapy, AJ is back at home recovering.
"To happen in the same year, it’s horrifying as a coach and as a parent, it’s sad for the players that have to go through it, especially these young kids that have their whole life in front of them," said Arnold.
Arnold said with hockey being a contact sport, similar to football and lacrosse, sometimes the unfortunate can happen.
"Because number one, the number of kids playing and the fact of the matter is that in contact, situations happen, things that are unforeseen, or things that can’t be prevented," said Arnold.
As a coach for over 20 years, he said the best thing players can be aware of is the space and time they have on the rink.
"Skating with your head up, keeping your feet moving, two very fundamental aspects of playing good solid hockey," said Arnold.
Jake has posted on Instagram since his injury that he is ready to fight.
A GoFundMe has been set up for his recovery. So far, over $340 thousand has been donated.