MERIGOMISH — A hockey player from Pictou County is recovering from a life-threatening skate cut to his neck.
Bailey Fraser, who grew up in Merigomish but plays for the Brookfield Elks of the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League, suffered the cut under his left ear during a game on December 3 against the host Sackville Blazers.
He’s home after completing his final exam before the holiday break at Dalhousie University’s Agriculture campus in Bible Hill, where he’s seeking a diploma in plant science technology.
“It healed up well,” he said, while noting the 27 stitches required to close the wound that were removed on December 11.
Fraser, 19, plays right wing. He previously played with the Pictou County Scotians, who traded him to the Elks early in the 2017-18 season.
The deep gash occurred slightly above one of the main arteries in his neck. Hospital staff discovered the gash was as deep as it was long but no nerves or blood vessels were affected.
“Another guy and I went down in the corner and as he tried to get up his skate caught me,” Fraser said. “I felt it but it was numb. I saw blood on my hand and I put pressure on it. I didn’t pass out or anything. I just stayed lying on the ice.”
Fraser’s mother Cindy Fraser said she felt fortunate the incident occurred close to health facilities in Halifax. She questioned leagues that do not require the guards to be worn.
“They wear them from novice to midget and Junior C but in Junior A or B they don’t,” she said. “In his case it wouldn’t have helped him but one inch further down his neck it could have helped him.”
Bailey Fraser has a safety guard of the kind that has become mandatory in other hockey divisions, but he wasn’t wearing it at the time.
“I’ll probably wear my neck guard the rest of the season and keep using it,” he said.
He plans to rejoin the Elks in the New Year, but he will need the time to pass while he’s been advised not to lift more than five pounds.
The Frasers praised Blazers assistant coach Dave Hessian, formerly from Trenton, who posted a message on the team’s web site reassuring fans once he could confirm that Bailey was going to be alright.
Bailey Fraser stands by his hockey gear that he’s restricted from lifting while he recovers from surgery to close a skate cut on his neck.