Guest Post: Taking a Puck to the Face

By Nick Case from Case and Point Sports

After Sidney Crosby took a puck to the face on Saturday, (what we now know is a broken jaw) people may wonder what it feels like.  Well wonder no longer!  I’ve taken a slapper to the face.  It was about nine years ago.  I still remember exactly what happened.

I was on the bench getting water and pulled my cage up to get some more air (I have exercise induced asthma and no cage on helped me open my jaw more and get more air in).  I was looking up the ice when the guy who had the hardest slapper in my adult league used it to clear the puck.  It cleared the bench and found the left side of my mouth.

Courtesy of Gene J. Puskar/AP

Courtesy of Gene J. Puskar/AP

It blind sided me.  I felt a sharp, searing pain that was over in an instant but was as intense as any pain I’d ever felt.  In the moment of impact everything went white.  Then there was no pain.  There was a loud, dull “thunk” sound that echoed through my head with them= impact.

My first reactions were to cover my mouth and check my teeth with my tongue.  As it happened at the moment of impact my mouth was closed.  I also had no mouth guard.  Two/three years prior I’d had braces so my teeth were my first worry.  I felt all of my teeth (miracle of miracles) but felt skin through my teeth.  My mouth tasted of pennies and that copper/blood taste.

I was clearly in some state of shock and moved my hands from my mouth.  They were spattered with crimson.  I immediately put them back.  At that moment some asshole ref skates over to the bench and says to me, “That’s why you always keep you cage on.” and skates away.

A few hours later I was stitched up.  My first, and so far only, stitches.  It took 21 to put my upper and lower lips back together.  From there the brief recovery began.  For the first few days my mouth, gums, teeth and lips were extremely sensitive.  Closing them or the smallest pressure brought about a lightning bolt of pain.

After that pain passed there were other issues still.  My lips were still swollen and my stitches remained (half were dissolving, half had to be removed manually).  Smiling hurt a bit as the stitches would tug and mentally you feared them not doing their job.  I had to learn to whistle again and it took about a week before I could get away from a liquid diet and form plosive sounds like “b” and “p”.

It just so happens that my grandmother was at that game.  She was in town from Pittsburgh and had bought me my first pair of skates so I wanted her to see me play once.  My mother and her were talking when I was hit.  They totally missed me leaving the bench and going to the locker room to be attended by some friends.  They looked up and said to each other, “Where’s Nick?” when they saw I was missing and before some friends came and got them.

It’s not a pleasant feeling.  I don’t recommend it.  I still have the scar.  It’s a nice one and chick’s dig it.  I leave off that I was on the bench, though.

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