Elmont, NY– In the midst of a tight game between the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators on Thursday night, play came to a screeching halt.
Suddenly, hockey was no longer important, as Ottawa defenseman Erik Brannstrom laid unresponsive after he hit his head on the ice following a check into the boards.
Injury seems to take place to the head as Brannstrom is on the way down.
Seemingly knocked unconscious after hitting the ice. pic.twitter.com/XsTI4IUybx
— Pesky Sickos (@PeskySickos) October 27, 2023
“It’s scary,” Senators captain Brady Tkachuk said. “He wasn’t moving. Usually, he always gets up. He’s tough in that way that he always gets up. So when he didn’t, I knew something was wrong.”
Doctors and trainers from both teams immediately rushed to the scene and placed the prone Brannstrom on a stretcher. As they did, members of the Islanders and Senators watched with concern.
“I kept playing, and I turned around, and everyone was yelling,” said Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck, who delivered the check to Brannstrom. “You just hate to see it. I’m sick to my stomach about it. I was then, and I still am now. We’re all human beings here.”
“You’re just thinking about the person and his health,” Tkachuk said. “It’s really emotional. Kudos to the Islanders guys for coming over and checking on him. It says a lot about the group and the culture that they have. We appreciate them looking out for one of our players.”
By the time Brannstrom had been led out of UBS Arena to be brought to a local hospital, the game had ceased for well over five minutes. Somehow, though, the teams had to get back to hockey.
“It’s hard,” Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said. “We had a little discussion we had a little discussion before play resumed. The human element is the most important thing, and nobody likes to see that happen. It was a clean hit, and he just fell awkwardly.”
With the Islanders leading 2-1, Ottawa’s Jakob Chychrun evened the score after the stoppage but couldn’t help but think of Brannstrom.
“It’s hard to pick up and start playing after something like that,” Chychrun said. “It’s really hard to see your buddy, your teammate, look like that on the ice.”
The game eventually ended in an Islanders victory, but that felt secondary considering the earlier incident.
“We tried making that effort about him,” Tkachuk said. “We wanted to win that game for him. It’s emotional.”
The Senators announced that Brannstrom was alert and had use of his extremities when he arrived at the local hospital. He has since been released and diagnosed with a concussion, according to Senators head coach D.J. Smith. Brannstrom is expected to miss an undisclosed amount of time.
Brannstrom, 24, has played 197 career games across six seasons in Ottawa.
The Senators take on the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Saturday night, while the Islanders face the Columbus Blue Jackets.