Ben Higdon, 10, received 12 stitches after a freak accident at Mary Brown’s Centre, yet he wasn’t worried about his injury after he received a special visit from his hockey hero.
Ten-year-old Ben Higdon was sitting at the Mary Browns Centre, watching his favourite team, the Newfoundland Growlers, face the Utah Grizzlies, when an unlikely accident changed his outlook on hockey forever.
With the evening almost over and a Growlers victory in sight, Ben and his father, Greg, were ready to celebrate their team’s triumph. With just over three minutes left, a shot taken by Growlers defenceman James Melindy hit Ben on the side of his face, causing a large cut.
Ben felt no pain when he was struck.
“It felt like a sweater rubbing against it,” Ben recalled.
His father immediately jumped to his feet and removed his winter jacket.
Immediately after the accident, a hoodie and napkins were thrown to Greg to place over Ben’s wound. A nurse, who also happened to be nearby, ran over to aid the situation.
After 10 minutes in the stands, Ben was taken to the Growlers first-aid room, before heading to the hospital.
Following 12 stitches and a routine check up, Ben was sent home, with a week long recovery ahead of him.
“It was pretty hard to eat for the first couple days, but then I ate like seven slices of pizza,” Ben said.
Ben took the injury in stride.
“There’s not much that slowed him down,” his mom, Melissa, said.
Despite the bizarre accident, Ben experienced a large amount of positive support from not only the Growlers but also the entire local hockey community.
“We had messages from people who we had no clue who they were,” Melissa said.
Ben added, “There was like piles upon piles of messages being sent to us.”
Among those messages was one from Growlers photographer Jeff Parsons, who sent a picture to Greg of him and his son at the game, soon before the accident.
Ben and his family were also promised a complimentary suite for their next game.
Through the help of a co-worker, Greg was able to set up a special visit for Ben from the man who shot the puck himself, James Melindy.
“I don’t really remember what we talked about, because I was just that shocked that he was actually at my house,” said Ben, who was given both a signed stick and jersey by the Growlers defenceman.
Greg said the experience showed “hockey is much more than what you play on the ice.”