Another Minnesota high school hockey player has been hospitalized after suffering a serious injury in a game, one week after a player was paralyzed by a check from behind in an incident that focused new attention on the dangers of the game.
The parents of Jenna Privette, 18, of Lakeville, a senior at St. Croix Lutheran High School in West St. Paul, said she was also checked from behind into the boards in a game Friday night.
Jenna Privette was listed in satisfactory condition Sunday at Hennepin County Medical Center, but hospital officials weren’t releasing further details, HCMC spokeswoman Christine Hill said. Her parents didn’t immediately return phone calls Sunday. They said Saturday that she had no feeling in her legs but tingling and pain in her arms.
Privette was injured in a game she’d dedicated to Jack Jablonski, 16, a Benilde-St. Margaret’s player who is not expected to walk again as a result of the spinal cord injuries he suffered Dec. 30 when he was checked from behind in a junior varsity game against Wayzata and hit the boards head first.
Privette’s Facebook profile photo is an emblem that reads, “Jack Jablonski is in our hearts.” Several of her teammates posted a new emblem Saturday that added, “Jenna Privette is in our hearts.”
Her mother, Penny Privette, said Saturday that the check reinjured an earlier injury that had kept Jenna out of games until recently.
“It’s similar to what she experienced in the past. … Hopefully this is healable,” said Carl Lemke, St. Croix’s athletic director, on Sunday. He said her parents told him Saturday that an MRI showed no breaks in her spinal cord.
She played on the Minnehaha Saints, a team made up of players from St. Croix Lutheran, Minnehaha Academy and St. Agnes. They were playing against the Blades, a team from St. Paul public high schools.
Checking from behind is illegal in Minnesota boys’ prep hockey because players don’t see the hit coming and can’t protect themselves, while checking of any kind is not allowed in girls’ hockey, under Minnesota State High School League Rules.
The two cases have Minnesota youth players, parents and coaches re-examining the risks of taking the ice.
Tension over Jablonski’s injury turned into brawling Thursday night in Winona, where a home player was checked from behind by an Owatonna player. Spectators watched as the checked player went after his opponent. Officials had to eject 10 players before calm was restored.
Hockey is “definitely under the microscope right now,” Owatonna coach Josh Storm said on Friday. “For the past three days this is the only thing I’ve heard about in my locker room.”
Ken Pauly, head coach at Benilde, agrees that the sport faces tough questions. “I don’t know how you couldn’t have some hard questions after this,” Pauly said. “My take is, you can’t legislate against tragedy. But what can you do to less the likelihood that a tragedy will occur?”