CEDAR RAPIDS – “Pink in the Rink” turned black Saturday night at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
Defenseman Dylan Chanter of the Dubuque Fighting Saints had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher midway through the second period of his team’s game against the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders after being knocked unconscious during a fight.
Play was suspended with 11:58 left, and Cedar Rapids leading, 2-0. It has not been determined when, or if, the game will be concluded.
"Wanted to let everyone know I'm awake and okay," Chanter said on Twitter late Saturday night. "Thank you so much for all your thoughts (and) prayers. Nothing compares to the hockey community."
Chanter scrapped with Corey Petrash of the RoughRiders in the corner behind the Dubuque net. The 18-year-old from Armstrong, British Columbia, lost his balance and fell backward, hitting his helmetless head on the ice (dyed pink for a cancer promotion) and dislocating his left shoulder.
The crowd cheered until seeing Chanter begin to severely convulse. His full-body seizure lasted at least two minutes, as team trainers and the RoughRiders’ team doctor rushed to him.
He remained on the ice until paramedics arrived on the scene roughly 15 minutes later.
Chanter was conscious and moving when taken from the arena. Fighting Saints Coach Matt Shaw told the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald late Saturday night initial tests and a CT scan showed no immediate concerns for Chanter, but as a precaution, he was airlifted to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City for further evaluation by a neurologist.
Chanter eventually was released from care and on his way back to Dubuque early Sunday morning. Stunning considering what was seen a couple hours earlier.
"The good thing is Dylan was coherent and talking to his mom on the phone," Shaw said. "But the concern is why this happened, and if there are any lingering issues because of it. We wanted to make sure he was in the best of care."
“It was a hockey fight, and a tragic thing happened,” said RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson. “You wish the best for Dylan Chanter.”
Several fans seated nearest the fight said Petrash appeared to land a punch to Chanter as he began to fall backward. Dubuque players on the ice tried to get at the Riders forward before realizing the extent of Chanter’s injury.
Petrash stood at the door inside the penalty box and watched intently as Chanter was treated. He was eventually escorted to the Cedar Rapids locker room by a game official.
“I am not comfortable telling you my view from the bench or giving you my opinion on anything,” Dubuque assistant coach Oliver David said. “I will say he did hit his head on the ice. How that happened or why that happened, I don’t know.”
After Chanter was taken from the ice, Carlson, David and RoughRiders’ CEO Jeff Jauch conferred with the United States Hockey League, and the decision was made to suspend the game. Fans can exchange their tickets from Saturday night for any future RoughRiders' game.
“At this point, the game is absolutely 100-percent secondary,” Carlson said. “I don’t think this decision was hard. I think all the people here understand that it was a very difficult situation. We all love sports, but there are lots and lots of things that are way more important than sports.”
“I think the decision was easy,” Jauch said. “Dubuque obviously would have had a hard time continuing playing, our kids are shaken. So at this time we are going to not play the game.”
Coaches from both teams did not allow players to be interviewed by the media. Carlson was asked what he would tell anyone who wondered why the USHL continues to allow fighting in games.
The primary goal of USHL players is to move on to college hockey, where fighting is prohibited.
“I don’t know if it should be allowed,” Carlson said. “I have always had my concerns about it.”
The USHL sent out a press release late Saturday night, announcing the game suspension.
"Further details as to the player’s condition, as well as a rescheduling of the game, will be issued by the Commissioner's Office as soon as they are available," it said.