GREENWICH, Conn. (WTNH) – A high school hockey player has died from an injury sustained during a junior varsity game in Greenwich, Connecticut, Thursday night.
During the normal course of the game between Brunswick School and St. Luke’s School, Greenwich Police Captain Mark Zuccerella said a player from St. Luke’s, sophomore Teddy Balkind, “fell to the ice.” Another player near Balkind was unable to stop and collided with him, Zuccerella said.
Balkind’s neck was cut by the skate blade, ABC News reports, citing a letter Brunswick school officials sent to alumni Friday. The game was stopped, 911 was called and Balkind was taken to Greenwich Hospital, according to Zuccerella.
Balkind died as a result of the injury.
The New Canaan Police Department posted a statement on its Facebook page, writing in part:
“The Town of New Canaan and the St. Luke’s community suffered a tragic loss last night. Teddy Balkind, a Sophomore at St. Luke’s passed away after suffering a tragic injury in a hockey game between St. Luke’s and Brunswick. Teddy skated for the New Canaan Winter Club throughout his youth hockey career and was known to all as an all-around incredible young man, son and brother.”
Head of Brunswick School Thomas Philip issued the following statement to Nexstar’s WTNH:
“We are devastated; an unimaginable tragedy. I have, of course, met with the Head of School at St Luke’s and have contacted the boy’s family to offer whatever help, support, or assistance we can during such a challenging time. Please keep all concerned in your prayers. Out of respect for the family, we will have no further comment at this time.”
WTNH has not confirmed if Balkind was wearing a neck guard, which can help protect players from injuries like this. Some can be fastened around the neck, while others are built into the shirt. Connecticut prep schools are not governed by the CIAC and play under NCAA rules where neck guards are not mandatory. CIAC schools, under the National Federation of State High School Associations, require neck guards are worn, along with mouth guards and chin straps.
“I think that the neck guard should be absolutely mandatory,” said Kenny Page, the father of an Amity High School hockey player. “Maybe better neck guards, maybe the equipment could be a little better.”
When asked if he would like to see that become mandatory everywhere, former prep school hockey player Liam Ferguson told WTNH, “I think any development in a positive way that would help protect any hockey player. I think that should be a priority.”
The hockey community is an extremely tight one.
The Greenwich Skating Club (GSC) Board of Governors said they have been in contact with the New Canaan Winter Club, which is honoring Balkind in the immediate term through helmet stickers, asking the membership to put a hockey stick outside their homes in quiet remembrance, and planning a moment of silence and stick tap before every travel hockey game.
The Board of Governors added that GSC and the Darien Youth Hockey Association, along with many other clubs, will honor him by implementing these actions.
“Hockey in our area is a close-knit community and many players on both teams played in our organizations over the years and will need support as well. While we can’t begin to understand the pain and suffering of the immediate family and close friends and family, we are all in pain and are sending our love, thoughts and prayers to everyone affected,” the GSC Board of Governors wrote.
Cam Atkinson, who plays for the Philadelphia Flyers, showed his support for Balkind on Twitter with the hashtag #sticksoutforteddy. Martin St. Louis, an NHL Hall of Famer, showed his support as well, along with the New York Rangers, who posted a statement sending condolences to his family and friends.
The Greenwich Police Department is investigating the incident. St. Luke’s was closed Friday and canceled after-school activities.