In one violent collision, Jack Jablonski’s life was changed.
The 16-year-old honor student, known as ‘Jabby’ to his friends, suffered a paralyzing injury during the Holiday Hockey Classic tournament at the St. Louis Park Recreation Center on Friday.
The frightening accident occurred in the second period of a junior varsity game between Benilde-St. Margaret and Wayazta when Jablonski made a play for the puck near the boards and was hit hard from behind by two opposing players. Jablonski, who plays forward for the Red Knights, crashed into the boards and collapsed motionless on the ice.
Jablonski remains in critical condition in the pediatric intensive care unit at Hennepin County Medical Center, unable to move his legs with only slight feeling in his hands and fingers. His father, Mike Jablonski of Minneapolis, is still in shock.
“It’s a parent’s worst nightmare,” Mike Jablonski said. He dropped and didn’t move. Right then and there I knew that my son, that there was something seriously wrong.”
Doctors said Jablonski suffered a bruised spinal cord but wouldn’t elaborate on the severity of the teen’s injuries or his chances of a full recovery, only telling his parents surgeons expect to fuse the damaged vertebrae once the swelling subsides. Chris McGowan, who coaches Jablonski’s Red Knights JV squad, had nothing but praise for the injured teen.
“He is a first-class kid. Definitely one of my favorite players in the program,” McGowan said. “It’s team-first with him for everything. He’s what I call a very high-end hockey player, too. And he’s got an incredible hockey future ahead of him as well, assuming this all works out.”
Jablonski’s mother, Leslie, said the family received an outpouring of support once news of her son’s injury spread. More than 40 friends and family members visited Jablonski’s hospital room on Saturday, while many others sent well-wishes to the sophomore’s Facebook and CaringBridge pages.
Several NHL players also reached out to Jablonski, including Dallas Stars center Jack Dowell, who sent a letter, and Jack Hillen, a defenseman on the Nashville Predators and Minnetonka native.
You can read Dan Browning’s full article from the Star Tribune here.