The Merrimack College hockey team banquet and his senior formal, Joe Exter, the Merrimack goalie and captain who suffered a severe skull fracture in a Hockey East playoff game on March 7 (SI, March 24). Exter's recovery from his near-fatal collision with Boston College's Patrick Eaves (who was not badly injured) has been little short of miraculous. The impact caused Exter, 24, to lose his mask and helmet. He hit his head on the ice and went into respiratory arrest; medical staff got him breathing by inserting a tracheal tube down his throat. A fracture extending from above his left ear to the base of his skull led to swelling of the brain, and doctors at Boston's Deaconess-Beth Israel Hospital put Exter into a medically induced coma and inserted a catheter to drain excess fluid. After 10 days doctors began taking him off sedatives, and he started moving his eyebrows in response to questions from relatives and friends who had kept a round-the-clock bedside vigil.
On March 27 Exter was transferred to Spaulding Rehabilitation Center in Boston, where he worked to regain his ability to speak and swallow. On April 4 he went home to Cranston, R.I. "I'm blessed," Exter told SI, speaking clearly. "I'm thankful for my girlfriend, Erin, and my family, my teammates, my coaches, my doctors. Without those people, trying to come back from this would be like trying to play goal without a team in front of you." Exter smiled often at last weekend's banquet and danced with Erin at the formal. A political science major, he is to graduate with his class on May 18. He is under orders to rest but has no lasting physical damage. "As far as when I can skate again, that decision won't be made for a long while," Exter says. "But I will be back. I'm either going to coach or play, and that's it. My future is in hockey."