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Brian Wierima / Forum News Service, Published January 17 2013

Detroit Lakes hockey player released from hospital after suffering bleeding of the brain

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – A Detroit Lakes boys hockey player is recovering after suffering a hard check that led to bleeding of the brain during the Lakers’ game Tuesday in Crookston, Minn.

Lakers center Brandon Olson, who is a junior out of Perham Minn., was knocked out for about two minutes after being checked into the boards during the first period Tuesday.

After arriving home in Perham after the game, Olson was brought to the clinic by a teammates’ mother, who met his parents, Ross and Traci, who couldn’t make the game in Crookston.

Olson was diagnosed with bleeding of the brain after a CT scan and was rushed to a hospital in Fargo by ambulance.

“By the time we hit Frazee (coming back from Crookston), I was just feeling miserable,” Olson said. “I knew something was wrong then.”

After a series of tests throughout the early morning hours, Olson was released from Sanford Medical Center at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

The check that knocked Olson out was not called a penalty, something that infuriated DL head coach Chris Denardo.

“Brandon was skating down the side boards and into the corner to get the puck,” Denardo said. “The Crookston player came all the way across the ice and put his elbows up and crushed (Olson’s) head into the boards.

“He was knocked out for at least two minutes.”

The referee told Denardo he didn’t call a penalty because it was a clean hit.

“Anytime a player gets knocked out after being hit into the boards, that is not a clean hit,” Denardo added.

After Olson heard it was not called a major penalty, disappointment was the obvious feeling.

“That got me worked up a bit,” Olson said. “With the Jabs (Jack Jablonski) situation and everything supposing to have been tightened up, I got a little upset it wasn’t called.”

Jablonski was a Benilde-St. Margaret’s player who was left paralyzed following a check from behind in a junior varsity game last season.

The concern for Olson’s well-being trumped anything from the game.

“I don’t care about the hockey side, I’m just glad he’s doing well,” Denardo said. “He’s lucky. It could have been worse.”

After the hit, Crookston athletic trainer Larry Anderson tended to Olson on the ice.

“When we got out to him, he was unconscious,” Anderson was quoted in the Crookston Times article. “He was not moving, but I saw that he was breathing, so I was very happy about that.

“He hit his head on the boards and then on the ice. When we let him go, he was as clear as anybody. He passed everything (Dr. Erik Kanten) and I put at him.”

Surprisingly, Olson’s memory is clear before and after the crunching hit.

“First his elbow hit me in the helmet and then my head went flying into the glass,” Olson said. “I guess then I was completely unconscious. When I woke up, I was dizzy and had some blurred vision.”

Olson knew exactly where he was and what the score was at the time – 2-0 in favor of Crookston. The Pirates eventually won 9-0.

“I had a really bad headache, but was able to shower and dress,” Olson added. “Between the second- and third-period intermission, I could only focus on one thing and the rest of it was blurry. I was sweating, then shivering.”

Olson’s history of concussions is apparent, with five. But the first one occurred when he was 3 years old and his last one when he was 8.

When the news he had blood on the brain reached him, that’s when Olson started getting nervous. But he is grateful he was brought to the Perham hospital that evening and so are his doctors, parents, friends, coaches and teammates.

“The doctors said it was a very good choice to come in that night,” Olson said.

With no contact for at least the next six weeks, Olson will have to take it slow and step by step.

But that’s the only way he wants to take it.

“Yeah, definitely, this has gotten me nervous, because if it happens again, I could go brain dead,” Olson said. “I will still keep my aggressive edge, but be more cautious when I go into the corner.”

Wierima writes for the Detroit Lakes Tribune