He scores! Bron­cos bus crash sur­vivor re­turns to ice


Lethbridge Herald - - SPORTS | WEATHER -

Ryan Straschnitzki was all smiles Satur­day fol­low­ing his first re­turn to the ice in a game since be­ing par­a­lyzed from the chest down in an April bus crash in­volv­ing the Humboldt Bron­cos in Saskatchewan.

Straschnitzki was at the Cow­boys N Sleds Char­ity Sledge Hockey game Satur­day, play­ing on a team with Cana­dian coun­try mu­sic star Ge­orge Canyon and a group of all-stars against the driv­ers and out­rid­ers from the World Pro­fes­sional Chuck­wagon As­so­ci­a­tion, in­clud­ing Ryan’s fa­ther Tom.

Straschnitzki’s team won 5-4 in which he scored two goals and had an as­sist.

“It was ex­hil­a­rat­ing .... it was just amaz­ing,” Straschnitzki said af­ter the game.

“It brought back a lot of mem­o­ries of when I was five years old and laced up the skates. It was one of the hap­pi­est times of my life and I was back out there again and just en­joy­ing the mo­ment.” He joked be­fore the game be­gan that he had never been much of a scorer and missed a wide open chance be­fore the first one went in.

“It was ob­vi­ously a fluke goal, but it’s some­thing I’ve got to work on but it was just fun. I was hav­ing fun out there.”

Sledge hockey, one of the more pop­u­lar events at the Win­ter Par­a­lympic Games, be­came an of­fi­cial event in 1994.

In­stead of skates, play­ers use dou­ble­blade sledges that al­low the puck to pass be­neath. Play­ers use two sticks, which have a spi­keend for push­ing and a bladeend for shoot­ing.

Straschnitzki has been un­der­go­ing phys­io­ther­apy since the April 6 crash north of Tis­dale, Saskatchewan, which claimed 16 lives and in­jured 13 oth­ers. Im­me­di­ately af­ter the crash he ex­pressed an in­ter­est to be­gin play­ing sledge hockey.

His men­tor, for­mer na­tional sledge team mem­ber Chris Ced­er­strand, who played hockey in the WHL for the Red Deer Rebels and Swift Cur­rent Bron­cos, had his right leg am­pu­tated above the knee fol­low­ing a work­place ac­ci­dent. He said Straschnitzki’s hard work is pay­ing off.

“He got two goals I be­lieve. He’s do­ing in­cred­i­ble. His progress is some­thing I can’t even put into words,” said Ced­er­strand.

Tom Straschnitzki was ex­cited for his son de­spite the fact he lost a bet to him in the game and will have to wear makeup and a dress.

“I’m very proud that he did the whole game and now he can hit the net, I guess, be­cause when he was stand­ing up he al­ways missed the net,” Straschnitzki said with a chuckle. “There’s an­other pos­i­tive.” Cassie Campbell-Pas­call, a three Olympian in women’s ice hockey, was on Straschnitzki’s team and un­der­stands the im­por­tance of his re­turn­ing to the ice.

“It’s the crisp­ness of the ice. There’s some­thing about it that just makes you feel bet­ter and I think with his sit­u­a­tion be­ing on the ice is some­what ther­a­peu­tic, not just phys­i­cally, but more im­por­tantly men­tally,” she said.

Money raised from the event went to the Strazstrong Foun­da­tion in sup­port of Ryan Straschnitzki and STARS Air Am­bu­lance.

Cana­dian Press photo

Humboldt Bron­cos bus crash sur­vivor Ryan Straschnitzki, cen­tre, plays in a fundrais­ing sledge hockey game in Cal­gary Satur­day.

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