Jesse's stick was most likely traveling between 50 and 75 mph when the heel of it slammed into Andrew's face. It probably crashed into that little groove that runs from your nose to your upper lip. Doctors and dictionaries call it the philtrum. The blade of the stick bowed Andrew's face shield back into his nose, cutting him, but the shield didn't shatter. Remarkably, neither did Andrew's teeth, although he wasn't wearing a mouthpiece. The blow fractured his nose and his right cheek and a small bone tucked away inside his sinuses. It opened three cuts under his nose, the longest of which ran laterally and was the length of a tall man's little finger. The force of the blow may have slammed Andrew's brain into the front of his skull, because the contusion that the doctors found on the brain was just behind the forehead. Or the bruise may have occurred when Andrew fell and the back of his head hit the ice, his brain sloshing forward in his skull on the rebound. He was knocked unconscious.
Shane Mabey, the Guelph Storm trainer, got to Andrew first. "I knew he was in serious trouble," Mabey says. "When I got back there behind the net, he was curled up in the fetal position and in seizure." After kneeling to assess Andrew's condition, Mabey jumped up and beckoned team doctors onto the ice. The paramedics in attendance were taken under the arms by players, lifted and literally skated out from the bench.
Getting knocked cold slows bleeding, so until Andrew regained consciousness, it was mostly a matter of making sure that he was breathing and that there was no spinal injury. When he came to, though, the bleeding from the broken nose and the facial lacerations started in earnest. "I had to have my equipment guy wipe my face off three times, because every time Andrew breathed out he was blowing a lot of blood," says Mabey. "I had blood all over me. He was sort of blowing it out like a whale. Two feet in the air."
Head trauma is often characterized by disorientation and agitation. Andrew experienced plenty of both for the next 20 minutes. "He didn't really know what we were trying to do for him," says Mabey. "We had to hold him down to work on him." Six men couldn't keep Andrew still enough to get an oxygen mask on him or start an IV. He was screaming and swearing in the sold-out, now silent arena. "He was yelling 'f—' a lot," says Mabey.
By this time the refs had skated Jesse off the ice with a match penalty for attempting to injure another player. He went to the locker room.
A fan who witnessed the incident and wrote a letter offering to testify in any case that might proceed from it said, "Parents were grabbing the many young children to remove them from the sight." Several Guelph players admit to having cried on the bench that night, no small thing in what is often described as the toughest league in hockey. "We knew it was bad when the coach went out on the ice," one player said. "Coach never goes out on the ice."
Andrew remembers only shards of this.
Andrew's parents were at home in Newmarket. In their bedroom they listened to all this being described on the radio.
THE TIME LINE, PART II
It took several minutes to get Andrew stabilized and restrained on a backboard, to put a cervical collar around his neck and wheel him off the ice. By the time Mabey saw him put in the ambulance, play had resumed. The trainer went into the Plymouth dressing room to clean up. "I looked around and saw that Jesse was sitting beside me," Mabey says. "He was in his underwear. He was crying. My clothes were all covered in blood. I remember him saying he didn't mean to hurt him."