A recovering Nathan Boatter spends some time with his brother Adam. (Contributed photo)

Young B.C. hockey player breaks neck after ‘reckless’ check

Father wants to draw attention to careless play in the contact sport

What should have been a simple puck retrieval in his own end went horribly wrong for 16-year-old Ridge Meadows Rustlers hockey defenceman, Nathan Boatter.

The Midget A1 player broke his neck after being hit into the boards from behind in a Jan. 18 game versus Port Moody. Early indications lead his father to believe Nathan will make a full recovery, but Brent Boatter would like to get the word out to young players – and their coaches – that reckless play in the contact sport needs to stop.

Nathan was playing point on the power play in the game when the puck was iced by the opposing team. The young athlete went to retrieve the puck behind the goal line and when he got there was cross-checked from behind.

He was rushed to Ridge Meadows Hospital, where he went for an X-Ray and a CT scan and discovered he fractured the C1 and C2 cervical bones at the top of his neck.

From there, Nathan was transferred to BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver where he underwent surgery to put a Halo vest on. The brace is used to immobilize and protect the cervical spine and neck after an accident. The procedure to put it in place required six screws be attached to Nathan’s skull.

He will have to wear the “contraption” for eight weeks but has full mobility in his limbs, for which he and his family are extremely grateful.

Nathan’s father said the player did not have any mean intentions, whatsoever, and he insisted that the opposing player not be vilified.

“The play was not malicious in any way,” he said, “It wasn’t malicious but it was reckless.

“Our intention now is to bring awareness to young players to play hard but be aware of what they’re doing on the ice. It’s always important to continue to remind these kids to play safe.”

Brent pointed out the odds were quite high Nathan would end up a quadriplegic.

“At the end of the day he beat the odds and he’s very lucky. We just don’t want to see something like this happen again,” Dad added.

“Nathan has no hard feelings, and the Boatter family has no hard feelings, we just want people to play the game safe.”

Lynne Kiang, president of the Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association, said safety is a huge concern for all levels of hockey, and every year her association has conversations about the various ways it can be improved for the young players.

She pointed out an initiative that sees skaters wear a STOP patch on the back of their jerseys as a visual reminder to prospective checkers approaching a target from behind.

While it did not act as a deterrent in this instance, Kiang said it is part of a larger program that aims to make the game safer.

“There are checking clinics that the coaches have to take, where they are taught proper techniques for training the players, and therefore can ensure that the information makes its way back to the team level and that training is not just done at the higher levels,” she said.

“It starts right at the atom level because this is a game in which contact can occur at any level. Hitting or checking doesn’t start until bantam hockey, but just by the nature of the game, it’s quite possible that player are going to be in contact with each other, so making sure that the players can play the game safely is always a prime concern,” Kiang concluded.

It is still too early to tell whether Nathan will get back to playing the game at the high level he was before his injury.

“I think he’d like to play again,” Brent said, “And if he is healthy enough, he will.”



ronan.p.odoherty@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BC Minor Hockey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Masset Dance Troupe presents beachfront ‘promenade performance’

Troupe performed ‘A Mid Summer Day’s Dream’ for family, friends on July 4 and 5

UPDATE: Masset anti-racism rally postponed

The Yahk’ii event, which means ‘truth’ in Haida, will be rescheduled at a later date

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

Registration open for first-annual ‘NextIslandpreneur’ student business competition

Competition offers mentors, iPads, seed money, cash prizes to young entrepreneurs on Haida Gwaii

Haida Nation reminds ‘select few’ fishing lodges that Haida Gwaii is closed to non-essential travel

‘Upholding Haida law amid COVID-19’ release comes one day before Queen Charlotte Lodge plans to reopen

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

BREAKING: Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Northern B.C. First Nations call for reversal of grizzly bear hunting ban

Growing grizzly populations have led to fewer ungulates and increased fear of attacks says Chad Day

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

Most Read