Put yourself in Austin Madaisky's shoes...or skates if you will for a second.
You go into the boards at full-speed, no time to react and your first thought that goes through your mind is... your hockey career is over.... you're paralyzed.
Scary thought isn't it?
That's Austin Madaisky's story who I spoke with from his home in Surrey, BC today. He's been fitted with an Aspen collar after his C-7 vertebrae fracture Friday night vs the Chilliwack Bruins when he was checked into the boards by D Brandon Manning.
"I knew (Manning) was coming down on the forecheck. He just kind of got me on a weird angle. I don't think I had got to the puck yet and I braced for the contact. Luckily, I ended up turning myself around. Who knows what would have happened if I went in head first."
Madaisky, 18, admits he had some pretty scary thoughts right after the hit.
"As soon as I went into the boards...both my arms went numb. I couldn't move them. I thought that I...," Madaisky stopped short of saying he thought he was paralyzed but the thought crossed his mind in the sudden aftermath.
"If you watch the tape, I begin then grabbing my left arm because I'm not too sure what's going on. I was just happy I could move my legs. I wanted to show my parents who were watching (on WHL Web TV) that I was ok."
Madaisky admits after the game he felt as normal as could be given the circumstances.
"I went home, I tried to sleep. I lied there. I came back to the rink in the morning and did some further tests with Toledo (Blazer Trainer Colin Robinson). At that point he said we better get you to the hospital."
As for the player that hit him, Madaisky says they've communicated since that night.
"He texted me right after the hit saying he was really sorry and he didn't mean to hurt me. That meant a lot."
I asked Austin about what he thought of a potential lengthy suspension for Chilliwack player. The hit drew a boarding major and game misconduct.
"I don't think he was meaning to hurt me but it's one of those things, you have to make a decision going to the boards like that. He could have let up a bit, he didn't have to drive me through the boards when I was five or six feet away which is a pretty dangerous area,"
As for the recovery process, the Blazer d-man is positive about it.
"I'll be wearing this collar for the next three months. The doctor said I can start working out whenever as long as I'm not doing anything strenuous with the neck. At the end of three months we will go back in and do some follow up examinations to see how the disks between the vertebrae are looking. If they're fine, there will be no surgery."
Not only did Madaisky go down but his d-partner Brandon Underwood left the same game earlier in the first period with an MCL tear.
"Yeah, my d-partner. Woody. We played quite a bit. Now we go from seven d-men to five. It means the younger guys will have to play more minutes. I think we have some good defenseman here."