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The neurosurgeon who operated on Minnesota high school hockey player Jack Jablonski, who was paralyzed when he crashed head first into the boards during a game last week, confirmed Thursday that the 16-year-old will never walk again and is "very unlikely" to regain movement in his arms from the elbows down.
"Hopefully he is going to prove me wrong," Dr. Walter Galicich said in a press conference Thursday at Hennepin County Medical Center. "But we can't expect much recovery."
The Benilde-St. Margaret's (St. Louis Park, Minn.) sophomore had surgery Wednesday to fuse damaged vertebrae and the procedure went well, but it also confirmed the catastrophic damage to his spine.
"This news is devastating to Jack and everyone who loves him," Jablonski's parents wrote on his CaringBridge website late Wednesday. "Our hope and dream is that he will be able to prove this prognosis wrong."
Jablonski has been in critical condition at HCMC since the incident last Friday and has been immobilized with a halo. Prior to surgery, he had regained some movement in his right shoulder and upper arm.
Jablonski was hurt on a hit from behind in the third period of a junior varsity game between Benilde-St. Margaret's and Wayzata during a holiday tournament. While skating after the puck, Jablonski was hit by two players, according to JV coach Chris McGowan.
"His face slammed against the boards and his body was straight up and down," McGowan said after the game.
"It wasn't a booming hit," Wayzata JV coach Duke Johnson told the Star Tribune. "Was it a check from behind? Yes. Did our kid take eight strides and then hit him? No."
Jablonski, who scored a goal earlier in the game, was a member of the Benilde-St. Margaret's varsity team, but was playing with the JV over the holidays to get more playing time.
Benilde-St. Margaret's announced that Thursday's varsity hockey game against Wayzata has been canceled.