Read more: Injured Bishop Feehan hockey player A.J. Quetta undergoes surgery at Mass General Hospital
Bishop Feehan varsity hockey player A.J. Quetta was transported to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield Tuesday night after crashing headfirst into the corner boards in a game against Pope Francis at the Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield.
“It is a significant injury,” Bishop Feehan president Tim Sullivan said Wednesday afternoon. “We are all praying for A.J., his family, and his doctors.”
According to a game video, with 6:09 remaining in the first half, and Pope Francis leading, 3-0, Quetta skated into the left corner of the offensive zone.
As he lined up a shoulder-to-shoulder check, the Pope Francis player shifted to the left, avoiding contact, and Quetta hit the boards, with his head appearing to absorb the impact.
Pope Francis coach Brian Foley said he did not see the play in question.
“Somebody said he went to make a hit and missed, and kind of toe-picked and went into the boards,” said Foley.
Quetta, a senior forward from North Providence, R.I., was taken off the ice on a stretcher. Both teams left the ice for intermission, and the game later resumed with six minutes tacked onto the second half.
“It was very somber after that,” said Foley. “It was tough to really get going again.
“In the moment, you’re just hoping he’s going to be OK, but you don’t know. You’re just wishing it.”
At the conclusion of Pope Francis’s 9-1 win, players from both sides gathered in a circle at center ice, kneeling in prayer.
“That’s one of the good moments in sports,” said Foley. “Without any real adult supervision, the kids took it upon themselves to do that, which I thought showed a lot of leadership for the kids on both teams to do that.”
At their practice Wednesday afternoon, Pope Francis players, in unison, placed No. 10 Shamrock stickers on their helmets in support of Quetta.
In a statement, the Boston Bruins sent their best wishes to Quetta: “We are keeping A.J., his family, and the Bishop Feehan community in our hearts during this very difficult time.
At the end of the practice at Matthews Arena, the Northeastern men’s hockey team gave Quetta a stick salute.
Overwhelming support from the hockey community and beyond surged into the evening. As of 12:30 Thursday morning, a GoFundMe page created to help defray medical costs had raised $217,000 from 3,000-plus donors.
Pope Francis Hockey put these stickers on their helmets today in support for AJ #10#Brotherhood , #Feehanfamily@PFcardinals @FeehanHockey @FeehanAthletics @HNIBonline @Buccigross @_Neutral_Zone @CoachMurphy7843 @In_The_Slot pic.twitter.com/F9GNSBLqbA— MJ Turowsky (@MichaelTurowsky) January 27, 2021
A statement from the Boston Bruins: pic.twitter.com/hPIi8WsU18— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 27, 2021
Our thoughts are with A.J. Quetta and the @FeehanHockey community. Get well soon! pic.twitter.com/BPHkEElr5m— Northeastern Men’s Hockey (@GoNUmhockey) January 27, 2021
After the postgame circle at center ice, the Bishop Feehan players and coaches made the long trek home to Attleboro in a snowstorm, their thoughts on their teammate.
“It was a terrible night,” said Sullivan.
Bishop Feehan’s game scheduled for Wednesday night against Archbishop Williams was postponed.
Globe correspondent Jim Clark contributed to this report.
Craig Larson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.