“The hardest part is laying around and waiting, not being able to do the things that I’m used to doing on a daily basis. I love being active, always like to be on the go, so it’s really frustrating that way. It’s tough to find things to do to keep my mind off of everything.” Matt Christie, injured player
The Cumberland County Blues of the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League are holding a benefit at their home game Friday January 27th when they host the Strait Pirates in Springhill. All money raised will go directly to Matt Christie and family, and will be presented during their next home game on February 10th.
Matt, 19, was seriously injured in an early December game at Port Hawkesbury against the Pirates. Here is his story.
He doesn’t remember his opponent’s stick coming up under his visor, but he remembers seeing the blood on the ice.
“When it happened it felt like my eyeball had completely fallen out,” Christie said. “I remember Ed (Hencher), the trainer, hollering for people to call 911 and I noticed that there was a lot of blood.”
Christie is in his second season with the Blues after playing with the Dieppe Commandos of the Maritime Junior Hockey League. He is a scrappy player whose show-no-fear and take-no-prisoners approach has made him a fan favourite in Springhill.
Now because of an errant high-stick, he has undergone several surgeries to his left eye and the realization that he may never play hockey again is beginning to sink in.
“The hardest part is laying around and waiting, not being able to do the things that I’m used to doing on a daily basis,” Christie said. “I love being active, always like to be on the go, so it’s really frustrating that way. It’s tough to find things to do to keep my mind off of everything.”
Following the Dec. 2 incident, Christie was taken to hospital and received six stitches. The injury caused significant damage. His eye’s lens was detached and free floating and he has a macular hole and a massive hemorrhage in the back of his eye along with scar tissue, angle recession and muscle damage.
He spent most of December lying in a dark room with massive headaches and nausea and has made three trips to Halifax to see specialists and to have surgery to relieve the pressure in his eye.
More surgeries are expected, including one to insert a new lens and another to repair the macular hole.
The injury may also put an end to his dream of being a police officer. He had just finished a policing course at Moncton’s Eastern College before the injury.
Christie is trying to remain optimistic.
“The doctors have been saying that I won’t be able to play again, but they have also said that because of my age that they are going to throw the book at me, meaning they are going to do everything possible to help me out,” he said. “I’m not giving up on the possibility of playing again, just have to take things one day at a time and keep a positive attitude, that’s all I can control. I have to leave everything else in the doctors’ hands and deal with the final outcome when that time comes.”
Coach Phil Lynds said he’s going to miss Christie’s presence in the lineup.
“Matt brought grit and the old style of play that a coach loves,” Lynds said. “He did not mind blocking a shot, or throwing a hit in the corner and he would drop his gloves when he had to. He was always willing to stand up for his teammates and he would play forward or defence, wherever we needed him.”
Lynds, who had his own eye injury a year ago while clearing snow, cannot imagine what he’s going through.
“If he was not playing hockey, he was refereeing minor hockey. When he was not at the rink he was doing something outdoors,” Lynds said. “That style of life he had is now gone, even his career path that he has chosen is in serious jeopardy. I know for myself I would be a little bitter and feeling sorry for myself, but not Matt. He has been back to the rink numerous times and he is always laughing and joking with his teammates and giving them a boost.”