Atlanta Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec returned to the ice today for the first time since losing consciousness and falling to the ice in the team’s opening game against the Washington Capitals on Oct. 8th.
A few minutes into that game with play on the opposite end of the ice, Pavelec suddenly collapsed slamming the back of his head to the ice.
The raucous crowd suddenly stood silent as the medical staff spent nearly 20 minutes tending to Pavelec before lifting him off onto a stretcher into a nearby ambulance.
The 23-year-old goaltender participated in his first practice since that frightening ordeal and was in good spirits after his 30-minute skate. He shared some of the details surrounding that ordeal and his journey back onto the ice.
“I don’t remember anything after the National Anthem until I woke up in the back of the ambulance. That’s a pretty big window,” Pavelec said. “I couldn’t feel my legs. . . but when I got to the hospital I started to feel my legs.”
With family and loved ones miles away overseas awaiting details after receiving initial calls from the team, Pavelec made sure to personally contact them as soon as he possible could.
“My girlfriend left one day before that happened. The game wasn’t on TV back home so nobody saw it, but [my family] got the phone calls right away,” said Pavelec. “When I woke up I called them right away back home to tell them I felt good. On the T.V. back home they only showed the film and didn’t report any other details concerning the incident so it was scary.”
Pavelec was later asked if he or the doctors have set a timeline to get back onto the ice at 100%.
“I’m medically cleared right now so it will take a while to get back into game shape and I was on the ice for the first time just now so they didn’t say when I was going to be back. I’m just getting some shots and hopefully I’m going to be ready as soon as possible. I need a couple more practices.”
After having a headache for three or four days immediately following the incident, Pavelec said those have subsided and he is symptom free. With this being his third concussion the team is sure to monitor him closely as he makes his way back. During the practice Thrashers’ trainers were monitoring his pulse and other signs and gave him the thumbs up.
Later in the interview Pavelec explained his history of concussions. “[Happened] three times already, this is my fourth one. . . hopefully this is the last one.” As far as passing out like what happened on Oct. 8th, Pavelec went on to say, “that was the first time and hopefully the last time”.
With weeks of tests including extensive MRIs all coming back clear, Pavelec is concentrating on getting back with the team with an opportunity to get back between the pipes for a game.
“I’m happy I’m back and that it was nothing serious,” he said smiling. “They said I’m ready to go, I just need some practice to get into game shape.”
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