At first glance, the press release looked like many of the others college conferences send out each week, listing honorees from the previous week’s action. But this week, the Atlantic Hockey Association decided to salute someone who was not even in uniform.
Earlier this week, the AHA named Army athletic trainer Rachel Leahy as its player of the week. The only statistic included in the release that mattered was Lives Saved: 1.
Our Player of the Week didn't record a point or a minute of TOI.— Atlantic Hockey (@Atlantic_Hockey) January 9, 2023
Army ATC Rachel Leahy's quick actions Thursday kept a serious injury from becoming catastrophic. There was no bigger play made in college hockey this week.
Thank you, Rachel.
📰 https://t.co/VaeXvhO2as#AHA20 pic.twitter.com/IBuWRN5dWS
Leahy was honored for her actions on Jan. 5, when Army junior Eric Huss suffered a throat laceration after he was cut inadvertently by a teammate’s skate blade in a game at Sacred Heart in Bridgeport, Conn. Leahy was the first person to respond to the Black Knights forward and remained by his side to control the bleeding from the time they left the ice until Huss arrived at the hospital and entered the emergency room.
“I was just watching center-ice, and one of our guys made a big hit, so I didn’t even really see it because it happened so fast,” Leahy told ESPN. “Then I looked a little bit to my left, and I see a little bit of blood on the ice, so I just put one foot up on the boards and jumped two feet over.
“Then I saw it in full view, and I just ran over, threw some hands on it, got direct pressure, and we just headed right off the ice.
“I knew right away that we had to take this seriously, so I went as quickly as I possibly could.”
After undergoing surgery Thursday evening to close the wound, Huss returned to West Point on Friday. The following day Huss and the team presented Leahy with a the player of the game belt.
Husser’s toughness and Rachel’s professionalism is why our Army Hockey Family is still whole today. Today the boys chose to give Rach our Player of the Game belt for saving our brother’s life. Thank you Rachel and all the medical staff involved for being the best at what you do. pic.twitter.com/tveTFJUrUu— Noah Wilson (@nwillly18) January 7, 2023
“It went through my mind that, Eric’s in a lot of trouble here,” Army coach Brian Riley said on the Inside Atlantic Hockey podcast when recalling the incident. “This could be really bad.”
“A really, really scary moment that, if it wasn’t for Rachel and the other medical people — the Sacred Heart medical people and the doctor that were in the building — that ending could have been catastrophic.”
According to Riley, the doctor credited Leahy, who continued to keep pressure on the wound as Huss was loaded into the ambulance and taken to the hospital.
“The surgeon said he had 5-10 more minutes,” said Riley. “He credited all the people there, but in particular Rachel for limiting the amount of blood loss.”
Leahy was honored before Sunday’s home game against Providence, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd and stick taps from both teams lined up along the blue line.
“What could have been catastrophic turned out to have I think the best possible ending,” said Riley. “He’s back, and we couldn’t be more thrilled, and we couldn’t be more proud of Rachel.”
Follow Andrew Mahoney on Twitter @GlobeMahoney.