Veteran forward Terry Ryan knew something was wrong the moment he went down in the first period of a 2-1 overtime victory for the CeeBee Stars over the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts on Sunday, Feb. 24.
“I got hit and then I heard the break, as if you broke a wishbone in my ears,” the 36-year-old says from his bed at Carbonear General Hospital on Monday, Feb. 25.
Ryan appeared to be in good spirits, despite severity of his injuries, which includes a factured rib, and a punctured and collapsed lung.
Early in the opening frame, Ryan was skating back to the CeeBees bench on a line change and felt an impact from Cataracts’ defenceman Greg Hoffe. There was no penalty on the play, which was away from the action.
Whether it was a cross-check, a spear, as initial reports indicated, or just a simple punch, Ryan was not sure.
All he knew was that his right side hurt.
Running on pure adrenaline, Ryan stayed on the bench, and answered the call when his next shift rolled around.
He attempted a dump-in shot and realized something wasn’t right.
“I knew then I was in over my head,” Ryan says over the sound of hospital equipment humming in the background.
He returned to the bench, and then made his way to the dressing room.
Moments later, an announcement was made over the public address system, requesting that a medical doctor — if there was one in the stadium — to report to the dressing room.
Ryan says he could barely breathe.
“I had never had that before. I wasn’t sure, but it didn’t surprise me that my lung collapsed.”
A day later, Ryan still has trouble breathing and has a plastic tube running out of his side and into a pump. The pump is drawing air from around Ryan’s lung to allow it to expand.
Ryan received a text message from Hoffe, wishing him well and apologizing for the incident.
It’s not known how long Ryan will be in the hospital, but one thing’s for sure — he will not be in the CeeBee Stars lineup for Game 5 in Grand Falls-Windsor on Friday night.
The CeeBees hold a commanding three games to one series advantage.
“There’s no way I can play this weekend,” he says. “But, if we win this weekend, man, I’ll play with anything. I’ve played with some crazy injuries.”
Ryan says he desperately wants to hoist the Herder Memorial Trophy.
The last time he played for the crown jewel in Newfoundland and Labrador senior hockey was a decade ago.
“I’ve won a provincial title in Alberta, been to the Allan Cup final, but there’s still something left. I want a Herder,” he says.
If Ryan is healed from his collapsed lung in the next three weeks, and the CeeBees can finish off the Cataracts, he could be back in the lineup for the second weekend of Herder play.
“Now, I could be out to lunch, it could be three months, I don’t know,” he says. “Once the lung gets better, it’s dealing with a cracked rib.
“Let’s say three weeks from now, I put an unbelievable pad there. I just want to get on the ice and help … whatever I have to I’ll do it. I just want to be a part of it.”
In the short time Ryan has been in the hospital, support has been incredible.
Ryan is one of the team’s most prolific when it comes to social media, and continues to have a strong presence on Twitter and Facebook, posting regular updates from his bed.
He’s received numerous messages of support from fans and friends.
“It’s comforting as a player,” says Ryan. “It really does feel like the community is behind us.”
Ryan was in the emergency room at Carbonear General when he found out Ray Dalton had scored the overtime winner in Game 4.
While he couldn’t get great reception on his phone in the waiting room, he could in the bathroom.
Ryan kept track of the game through updates on NL Hockey Talk, a popular message board in this province.
“I was thrilled,” he says. “It’s funny. In these situations, you get that immediate sense of excitement. Not long after that come’s the sense that it’s there, but we gotta finish it off.”