The Beaver Valley Nitehawks lost something much more important than the game on Saturday as they fell to the Nelson Leafs 5-2 at the Nelson District Community Centre.
With 2:45 left on the play clock, Nitehawks forward Brandon Butlin side-stepped one hit, and was off balance when a Nelson player checked him hard into the boards. Butlin was knocked unconscious and immediately went into convulsions, as the result of a severe concussion.
The 17-year-old was taken off the ice on a stretcher and admitted to hospital where he was kept overnight for observation.
Brandon is now at home and resting, and his mom Brenda said that while it has been trying, she may have more difficulty keeping the active young man home and at rest during his recovery.
Brandon is unable to remember the third period hit, says Brenda, and, as he is still undergoing tests, a prognosis is unknown.
“He’s hoping, but nobody’s giving him any answers so we’ll just have to go day by day,” she added.
The J. L. Crowe honour roll student will remain out of school for the time being and is not expected to rejoin the Hawks for at least a month.
Everyone at the rink was severely shaken and the coaches decided to not play the remainder of the game after the traumatic incident.
“The team was in a state of shock Saturday night, guys were very upset and scared,” said Hawks coach and GM Terry Jones. “Now that he is recovering, they are feeling much better as a group.”
The reaction from the public has been overwhelmingly supportive as messages continue to pile up wishing the young Hawk a speedy recovery.
“Now he is getting a bit tired of the whole thing, but does understand the severity and reaction of the public,” said Jones.
On the Nitehawks-Nest website players and fans continue tweeting well wishes including teammate Danny Vlanich who wrote, “Good to see bbutlin looks better, smarter too, weird, Loveya.”
As for hockey, on Friday the Nitehawks skated to a convincing 8-2 victory at the nest, but the Leafs replied grounding the Hawks in the second game of a home-and-home series with the 5-2 victory.
Butlin got the Hawks on the board to start the game, but the Leafs’ Linden Horswill potted a pair of goals in the first to give Nelson a 2-1 lead.
Colton Schell netted the winner 3:29 into the second period, with assists to Kevin Bow and Seth Schmidt. Ryan Edwards would cut the lead to one, converting a Dallas Calvin pass to make it 3-2. However, a power play marker by James Sorrey would restore the Leafs’ two-goal padding and Colton McCarthy’s short-handed goal iced it at 16:49 of the third.
The Leafs dominated the Nitehawks outshooting them 34-18 including a Hawks’ season low of just four shots on net in the third period, a stark contrast to the previous night when Beaver Valley peppered Nelson’s Cody Boekman with 43 shots.
In the Hawks 8-2 win, Taylor Stafford had a huge night for B.V. The Tabor, Alta. native netted his first hat trick in the KIJHL and added an assist while defenceman Arie Postmus had a productive night with a goal and two assists. Edwards also chipped in with three assists and Zach Perehudoff got the win, stopping 32 of 34 shots.