Good stuff from Bruce Brothers of the PP....
brighter day today.
Tom Pohl lay in a hospital bed Monday after emergency brain surgery and wanted to talk a little hockey.
What else: Pohl belongs to one of the first families of Minnesota hockey.
A senior forward for the University of Minnesota men's hockey team, Pohl was recovering in fair condition Monday evening at St. Marys Hospital in Rochester, Minn. Fair condition means "a favorable prognosis," according to a hospital spokesperson, and includes vital signs within normal limits.
In the scariest of moments, Pohl was knocked off his feet in front of the team bench and suffered a skull fracture Sunday night in Minnesota's double-overtime Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoff game in Mankato, Minn. He was taken to a Mankato hospital, then airlifted to St. Marys, which is affiliated with the Mayo Clinic.
Gophers coach Don Lucia, who visited Pohl on Monday afternoon, said he stepped into the room not knowing what to expect. The man in the bed had his eyes swollen shut, his head wrapped in bandages and his body bruised.
"It was hard to see," Lucia said, adding that Pohl "was more alert than I thought he would be."
Pohl, of course, demanded details about the Gophers' 3-2 victory over the Mavericks.
"He was happy that we won," Lucia said. "He was concerned about that."
One of the Gophers' most popular players whose family name forever will be linked to hockey in Minnesota, Pohl was hurt after he rifled the puck into the Mavericks' zone about six minutes
into the second period. He was hit by the elbow of Mavericks forward Jason Wiley, his helmet flew off and he hit face first against the top of the sideboards, then fell face first to the ice, unconscious.
"I did not see the hit," Lucia said, "but obviously, when you look down and see the scene, you knew it was serious."
Pohl, 23, is the son of former Red Wing High School hockey coach Jim Pohl, who coached Tom and his brother, former Gophers All-American Johnny Pohl, now a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Johnny Pohl's wife is former Olympian Krissy Wendell, another former Gophers All-American and Patty Kazmaier Award winner as player of the year in women's hockey.
The family — members declined media requests for interviews — rushed to be at Tom's side, including Johnny and his wife, who flew in from Toronto. Johnny Pohl is on injured reserve because of a sprained ankle and is not currently in the Maple Leafs' lineup.
Two years ago, Tom Pohl talked about how he never would approach the level of his big brother, who twice led the nation's collegians in scoring, but he was OK with that. Said Johnny at the time about his brother: "He's a really good kid. He's there for all the right reasons; he's there for the program and to contribute."
Lucia on Monday echoed those sentiments.
"Tommy is a positive kid and a tremendous student, everything you want in a student-athlete," he said. "I've told kids to stay close to Tommy, because some day you're going to be working for him."
Lucia met with his players before driving to Rochester, and Gophers senior captain Derek Peltier said it was "real shocking to the whole team," to learn about the severity of their teammate's condition. "There's not a whole lot we can do now but keep him in our thoughts and prayers."
Pohl, who on Friday was named to the WCHA all-academic team for the third year in a row, is a team favorite who has been a four-year role player at Minnesota. He notched one goal and five assists in 34 games this season and has career totals of four goals and 11 assists for 15 points.
Pohl may have played on the fourth line, but his attitude was top shelf, Peltier said. "He's a positive guy with just so much energy. He just loves life."
According to Peltier, Gophers players believe the injury was caused by a freak accident following the hit by Wiley, a junior for the Mavericks who played high school hockey at Bloomington Kennedy.
"I don't think there was any intent to hurt anyone," Peltier said.
Injured Gophers forward Ryan Stoa, who has been sidelined since Minnesota's second game and watched the game from press row Sunday night, said he played youth hockey with Wiley, and when he talked to the Mankato player after the game, "He was shaken up."
Wiley's father, John, who lives in Mound, said he wanted to take his son to dinner after the game, "but he wouldn't even eat. The first thing he said to me was, 'Dad, I don't know this kid personally, but I want to get his number.' Jason definitely wants to get a hold of him just to assure him there was no intent in any way."
Anyone who witnessed Pohl being strapped to a gurney and wheeled off the ice Sunday was concerned. Kevin Buisman, the director of athletics at Minnesota State, issued a statement Monday:
"On behalf of Maverick hockey, Minnesota State athletics and the entire university, we want to express our deepest care and concern for Tom Pohl and his family. They will be in our thoughts and prayers as we continue to monitor his medical progress, and we want to extend our best wishes for a complete and full recovery."
Recovery is entirely possible, according to Robert Sevenich, the medical director of brain injury services at Bethesda Hospital.
Sevenich, who said he does not know the specific details of Pohl's injury, listened to a description of the how the injury occurred and information from the University of Minnesota's news release and said, "I know people who have had that happen and they have a good recovery.
"It is a serious injury," he added, but Pohl has three things going for him: "He's young and he's probably in incredibly good shape and he has an incredible amount of fight."
But the doctor declined to downplay other possibilities.
"I'll say a prayer for him tonight," he said.
Mankato has some good people working for them.
Lucia is a caring, decent man.
Jeff brought up a good point this morning, that no one probably felt worse than the young man who was involved in the hit, (Jason Wiley), you can bet that. Hockey players all belong to a brotherhood of sorts, and no good one wants another to be injured because of him.