Player returns after neck slashed by skate

DARRYL G. SMART, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:11 PM ET

After one of the scariest moments in his hockey career, Zach Baker made his return to the rink Friday.

Baker, who plays for the Brantford bantam A 99ers, rejoined his teammates to play in a game against the Woodstock Jr. Navy Vets after having his neck slashed in a freak accident a week and a half ago.

Late in the third period during a game against the London Jr. Knights, Baker was among a group of players in a goal mouth scramble.

“During the scramble in front of the net, a player fell to the ice with him,” his father Don said. “It was an innocent enough play. When he got up and looked and skated to the bench, I thought he reinjured his thumb.”

One of a number of injuries that has plagued Zach this season was a broken thumb.

“There was no blood, so I just thought he got knicked,” Don said. “He said he felt what happened and the first thing he thought about was what happened to Zednik a couple of years ago.”

During an NHL game on February 10, 2008, Richard Zednik of the Florida Panthers had his throat slashed by a skate blade in a freak collision against the Buffalo Sabres.

“My wife and dad ran over to the bench when they noticed the trainer working on him,” Don said. “Once they realized what happened, they told me to get over there.”

In the end, Zach received 11 stitches. Doctors said he was lucky because the skate just missed his carotid artery.

“Usually that part of the neck is protected by the neck protector and helmet,” Don said. “It was just the way his head was turned and how it was exposed. It was really a freak thing. The same thing could happen 100 times and nobody would get injured. It was just one of those things.”

Because there was hardly any blood, Zach, not knowing the extent of his injury wanted to watch the remaining minutes of his team’s 2-0 win.

Though the 14-year-old Brantford hockey player was fortunate to be able to make a quick return from the incident, his father did say his son was a bit nervous before his game Friday against Woodstock.

“It did scare us but we realize it was a freak thing,” Don said. “We all realize things like this are a possibility. Kids now are very well protected. There’s not much more that can prevent something like that happening. We’re all just happy Zach was able to comeback.”


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