In one of the more frightening incidents of the 50-year history of the Kingston junior hockey franchise, Kingston Frontenacs defenceman Maleek McGowan was badly injured when he collided with North Bay Battalion defenceman Paul Christopoulos
The incident happened early in the third period of the game Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. McGowan landed a solid bodycheck to Christopoulos, who was upended on the play. As a result of the hit, Christopoulos’s right skate make contact with the left wrist of McGowan. McGowan suffered a severed artery and two severed tendons as a result. It was immediately obvious that McGowan had suffered a severe injury.
Had it not been for the immediate reaction and action of Frontenacs Athletic Therapist Chris Nelson and other first responders at the team’s home ice of the Leon’s Centre, the result could’ve been catastrophic.
Nelson, team doctors, and paramedics stabilized McGowan in the Kingston training room. He was then transported to Kingston General Hospital (KGH).
In what only can be described as one of the louder crowds of the season, fans were treated to a very entertaining game between the Frontenacs and Battalion. However, the raucous atmosphere turned silent as both teams and officials discussed whether to continue with play. After it was decided to continue, Kingston head coach Luca Caputi did an outstanding job ensuring that his players regained their composure and were able to carry on.
The intensity that had been very present was lacking after McGowan was taken off the ice. Kingston had fought back from a 3-0 deficit to make the score 3-2, before giving up an empty net goal with two seconds left in the game. The Frontenacs finished the night with a 4-2 loss to the Battalion.
Meanwhile, McGowan underwent successful surgery to repair the artery and tendons and was released from hospital in the early hours of Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. He was at the rink later that same morning to meet with his teammates as they were about to practice.
McGowan was also in attendance Sunday afternoon when the Frontenacs took on the Flint Firebirds at the Leon’s Centre. There, the energy that left the rink with McGowan Friday night returned as the defenceman received a standing ovation from those in attendance.
“We would like to thank our training and medical staff led by Chris Nelson and Dr. Jennifer Hacking, the North Bay Battalion training staff, the onsite paramedics, Leon’s Centre staff, and the medical team at Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KGH) for their immediate attention while treating and caring for Maleek McGowan,” the Frontenacs said in a press release on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022.
“He is in stable condition, safe and on the road to recovery… We wish Maleek all the best in his recovery process.”
The Frontenacs travel to Niagara, Erie, and Hamilton this coming weekend before returning home to host division rival, the Hamilton Bulldogs, on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022.
For more information on the Kingston Frontenacs, recaps of the games this past weekend, and a full schedule of upcoming games, visit the Kingston Frontenacs website.