WOLFVILLE, N.S. (CUP) — What dominated everyone’s thoughts on October 29 was not Kevin Baker’s two third period goals, Moncton losing at home after coming off a season where they only lost at home once or even the match up between the two finalists of the AUHC playoffs last year.
Rather, it was Sebastien Savage, a Moncton player, and the tragic and horrible accident which took place one week earlier that was on everyone’s minds.
It was an incident of which Moncton head coach Bob Mongrain said “We all know an accident like this can happen, we just always hope it doesn’t.”
At the Acadia Arena there was not quite the same atmosphere as the last time Moncton visited. This time the atmosphere was much more somber and melancholy. Acadia fans wore blue coloured ribbons and the Superfans weren’t quite as boisterous as you would have expected whilst hosting the team that bounced their team from the 2004-05 playoffs.
In his third year at Moncton, Savage, a six-foot, 195-pound right-winger, has earned a reputation as hard worker and natural leader on a nationally ranked team. An OHL graduate, Savage had four goals and eight assists in 21 games last season and was an important member of the AUS champion Aigles Bleu.
Savage played a physical style of hockey and the October 22nd game was no exception. He chased the puck and one of the Axemen into a corner at the J. Louis Levesque arena. As has happened many times before, a player driving hard to the boards loses his footing and falls. Savage tripped over the fallen player and flew head first towards the boards. There was nothing either player could do. It was a horrible accident. His collision into the boards was hard and silenced the usually rowdy Moncton crowd.
After the collision, Savage lay motionless on the ice for 20 minutes as trainers and paramedics attended to him. He was removed by stretcher and taken to the Dr. Georges L. Dumont Hospital for emergency treatment. The diagnosis was a major fracture of the fifth cervical vertebra which included bone displacement. The fracture has left Savage paralyzed in his upper and lower extremities.
Savage was later transferred to the Moncton City Hospital for surgery. Doctors removed the displaced fragments of the vertebra and installed a plate with screws to stabilize the spine. Following his surgery he was moved to the neurosurgical intensive care unit where he is recovering and awaiting a transfer to an Ottawa hospital closer to his family.
The Ottawa Senators and the Ottawa 67’s have announced plans to create a trust fund for Savage. Savage played 56 games for the Ottawa 67’s and was with the team for the 2001 Memorial Cup championship. The Ottawa trust fund will be in addition to the scholarship fund started by the University of Moncton (UofM). Acadia varsity athletics sold blue ribbons for two dollars with all the proceeds going to the UofM scholarship. All who attended were also invited to sign a book to pass on their prayers and love to Savage.
The game Saturday night was the first back for Moncton, after the cancelled a Wednesday night game against the St. Mary’s Huskies. The game just did not feel right for any of the fans in attendance. What is usually a fun time on a Saturday night was more subdued.
Two shorthanded goals for the Axemen, and a two goal performance from rookie Broady Todd helped the Axemen to a 6-2 win over Moncton. What should have been a celebration of victory over an arch rival was not. At the end of the game winning just didn’t seem that important.
“I still can’t believe it,” one Axemen fan said. “That could have been someone who I go to class with. I can’t imagine that happening to someone here, I just can’t.”