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Clay hockey family strives to assist injured teammate

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Clay High School's hockey team observes a moment of silence before the game against Southview High School at the Ice House. Last night was the first game since teammate Kyle Cannon was injured.

The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
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With teammate Kyle Cannon still hospitalized with a serious neck injury, the Clay High School hockey team took to the ice for the first time last night since the 14-year-old was hurt Sunday in a varsity tournament in Kettering, Ohio.

Kyle, who was airlifted yesterday to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center from Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, has regained some sensation in his arms and abdomen. He was hurt when he was sent headfirst into the boards by an opposing player from Kentucky's Lexington Catholic High School.

Last night, a few reminders of the incident were present at the Ice House in Sylvania, where the Eagles beat Southview High School 4-2.

T-shirts with Kyle's initials and number on the front were on sale, and at the ticket counter, letters instructed fans how they can donate to support Kyle and 18-year-old Dustin Wells of Start High School.

Dustin suffered a serious back injury during a hockey game in Sylvania against Northview High School on the same night Kyle was hurt.

Nevertheless, last night's game was about the Clay hockey program returning to some level of normalcy, while keeping Kyle in mind.

"Kyle's family made sure that the boys tried to get back to hockey as soon as possible," Clay team manager John Utter said. "When we were at the hospital on Sunday, Kyle's dad, Jim, made it very, very clear at least a half-dozen times that these boys need to start doing what they enjoy doing - and that's play hockey."

At the Cannon family's request, Clay coaches and players were not made available to the news media before last night's game.

Mike Wojciechowski, whose son Mike, Jr., is a Clay captain, said it's been a struggle for Kyle's teammates to cope with what happened.

"It's a terrible thing," Mr. Wojciechowski said. "It's pretty drastic for his teammates to have a player go down like that."

The collection at the Ice House for Kyle and Dustin was just part of an effort throughout the Northwest Hockey Conference. Donations can be made at all league games this weekend. In addition, the gate fees for the Bedford High School-Clay match at 9:30 tonight at the Ice House will be split 50/50 with the Kyle Cannon fund.

The Anthony Wayne, Central Catholic, Start, Whitmer, and Perrysburg hockey teams are holding fund-raisers to show support.

"The hockey community here in northwest Ohio has been unbelievable," Mr. Utter said.

He said the Clay hockey program has been contacted by the Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets, and New Jersey Devils to ask what they can do.

Along with collecting $1,900 at an in-school fund-raiser yesterday, proceeds from the Lexington Catholic game last night will go to the Benefit Account for Kyle Cannon. Contributions can made at Waterford Bank, 3900 North McCord Rd., Toledo, OH 43617, or at any Charter One Bank.

Mail donations to: NHC Benefit for Injured Players, c/o Joe Reynolds, PO Box 763, Sylvania, OH 43560.

Information from the Dayton Daily News was used in this report.

Contact Zach Silka at:

zsilka@theblade.com

or 419-724-6110.

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