A player in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada was killed after being struck by a puck in the neck area. Our heart in the Canadian Hockey community go out to the family, friends and teammates.
Minor hockey player struck in neck has died, official says
EDMONTON - A 16-year-old Edmonton minor hockey player who died after an unusual on-ice incident was remembered Sunday night as a team leader and good friend.
Kyle Fundytus died on Sunday after he was struck in the neck with a puck during a game on Saturday, the South Side Athletic Club confirmed.
"His passion and enthusiasm for the game and life exemplify traits of not just a great hockey player, but also a great person," read a statement from the club where Fundytus played hockey for four years.
"Kyle's sudden passing has shocked family, friends, and the hockey community. Kyle will be deeply missed by all."
The statement said Fundytus, who wore the number 11 on the ice, was "one of the leaders" of the Don Wheaton Midget AA team. He was a forward who had played on the team for two years.
Fundytus was rushed to hospital from the Clareview arena around 3:30 p.m. Saturday, after he was injured during the third period of a game against the Maple Leaf Athletic Club Raylin MFG. A witness said Fundytus was hit in the neck with a puck as he blocked a shot.
"It wasn't even that hard of a shot. It was a solid shot from the point (and it) hit him in a fluky spot, I guess," said the witness, who asked not to be identified.
A spokesman for Alberta Health Services said on Sunday afternoon that Fundytus was still in hospital in critical condition. The teen's parents later asked that updates not be made public.
Friends and teammates of Fundytus took to Twitter Saturday evening to send him their best wishes.
By late Sunday morning, the messages had turned to notes of grief and condolence following numerous unconfirmed reports he had died.
"To a line mate, a fellow captain, a teammate, and a brother, you will not be forgotten," one friend wrote on the social networking website.
Several others claiming to know Fundytus posted messages of sympathy.
"Heartbreaking," one person posted. "Praying for family and friends, teammates of Kyle."
The former president of the Southside Athletic Club, Greg Krawchuk, said he received an unconfirmed message that Fundytus died of his injuries Sunday morning.
"It's a terrible tragedy. It's a terrible, fluke accident."
Krawchuk said that while players at the midget level must wear neck protection, the guards aren't designed to stop a fast-moving puck.
"They have to wear mandatory protection. They're not allowed on the ice without it," he said. "Neck guards are made to protect from skates and sticks, and not made to protect you against a high-impact (puck) hit."
Bruce Kirby, administrator for the northern Alberta Midget AA Hockey League, spent the day watching hockey at the Millwoods arena, where news of Fundytus' death had reached most people.
"It's a sombre day," said Kirby, who knew Fundytus and his father, the team manager. "The family wants to keep things quiet for now."
Kirby, a minor hockey statistician for 25 years, said it's not uncommon for players to be injured while blocking shots, but never this seriously.
"I've seen guys get hurt on their legs or something like that. But never to this extent," he said. "The kids are pretty competitive. They want to block shots and they feel like nothing is going to happen to them. It's just a freak accident, that's all."
Kirby said Fundytus' team has had their next two games postponed. Counsellors will be brought in for players on both teams that were playing Saturday, Kirby said.
"Both teams are pretty shook up," he said. "Hockey in Edmonton, everybody is close-knit. The player that took the shot is going to be counselled. He's in pretty rough shape himself."
The South Side Athletic Club said details of a memorial will be made public shortly. There are plans to establish a Kyle Fundytus Memorial Scholarship.