CEDAR RAPIDS – Dylan Chanter walked off his team's bus late Tuesday afternoon and through the front doors of the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. Let that sink in a moment.
It was just shy of a month ago that the Dubuque Fighting Saints defenseman was being carried out the back door of the arena, strapped to a stretcher and a waiting ambulance that would take him to St. Luke's Hospital following a horrific-looking injury incurred during a fight. Returning to the scene of that fight and injury was not lost on him.
"I don't think it was as much coming in through the front door, as much as it was (just being here)," Chanter said. "I kind of went out to (the rink) by myself and sat on the bench for awhile. Just to kind of look around. It was a good feeling to be back and know that I escaped a pretty scary situation. I'm really lucky."
Chanter was knocked unconscious after hitting the back of his bare head on the ice during a scrap with Corey Petrash of the RoughRiders. He c0nvulsed for at least two minutes as team trainers and an on-scene doctor rushed to tend to him.
The 18-year-old from British Columbia was given a CT scan and other tests at St. Luke's, then airlifted as a precaution to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City before remarkably being discharged later that night/early the next morning. The game was understandably suspended in the second period and finally completed Tuesday night, with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders taking a 3-2 shootout victory.
"I blame myself for what happened," said Chanter. "Just for losing my balance. I was kind of all over the place in that fight there. Like I've said before, it was a freak accident and something I don't plan on having happen to me again or ever seeing again."
Chanter said he has no memory from the time he was knocked out until his CT scan. He never had problems with headaches, just extreme fatigue that lasted for about three days.
He felt well enough to skate about a week after his injury, was recently cleared by doctors for full participation and played his first two games back last weekend at Muskegon. In his first game, he scrapped with an opponent, believe it or not.
"It was a freak accident, and I think fighting should be a part of the game," Chanter said. "Like Coach (Matt Shaw) has said in the past, if you take out fighting, you're bringing in a whole new part of the game that is scary as well. I think you need it. Obviously, it has been taken out of the game quite a bit already. There are less fights. But it's always going to be there, as much as some critics don't want it to be."
The RoughRiders (9-3-1, 19 points) took a 2-0 lead into the completion of the game but surrendered a goal in the second period and another short-handed with 4:37 left to send it to extra time. Carlos Fornaris had the only success in the three-player shootout to give his club a nice two standings points.
Goaltender Danny Tirone was outstanding all night, especially in the third and shootout, keeping his noticeably tired team afloat. Cedar Rapids – which was outshot in the third period, 17-2 – competed the final period and a half plus overtime with only nine forwards.
"I've just been battling. Trying to help the team as much as I can," Tirone said. "I think for us here, it's all about everyone going. I just want to contribute, really that's my focus for every game. I want to contribute to a win."
Neither Petrash nor Chanter were allowed to play Tuesday night: Chanter because it was his injury that suspended the game and Petrash because he received a game misconduct after the fight, one eventually rescinded by the United States Hockey League. The RoughRiders originally had dressed only 11 forwards, with captain Dylan Gareau suffering an injury since then that prevented him from playing.
"Playing with only nine forwards, that's not too easy to do," RoughRiders Coach Mark Carlson said.
Carlson was asked how different it felt to finally complete the game, especially considering the circumstances that forced it to be suspended.
"It wasn't really a big deal at all," he said. "It was a 32-minute game, let's go play it."
Cedar Rapids hosts Fargo on Friday night and Dubuque on Saturday night. Chanter and Petrash are expected to play.