GRAEME BRUCE/BRANDON SUN
Shane Oliver, a local peewee hockey coach, has sustained nine concussions in his life. Oliver hosted a Concussion Awareness Night at Westman Place on Sunday evening as his team, the Brandon Canadiens, wrapped up their regular season.
Chased by a frustrated opponent, Shane Oliver was skating full speed around his team’s net before his skates came up from under him, sending him four feet in the air. His head broke his fall to the ice, cracking his helmet.
Dazed and slightly confused, the forward undressed in the first period of the February 2006 military league game in Edmonton and sat in the stands.
That was Oliver’s ninth concussion.
Many of the symptoms he felt from his previous concussion in 2000 started coming back. Confusion. Stuttered speech. Vomiting. Dizziness.
After his hockey-related concussion in 2000, Oliver couldn’t read or write. Once while driving three days after, he blew through six stop signs — he saw all of them, but his brain couldn’t tell his right leg to depress the brake.
The coach of the Brandon Canadiens peewee hockey team hosted Be a Pro Concussion Awareness Night in conjunction with his team’s final regular season game on Sunday evening.
While his team played the Souris Elks on the ice at Westman Place, Oliver spoke to the crowd, which included other minor hockey teams, parents and fans, about his head traumas.
The night was a chance to speak about the rampant issue of concussions in hockey and all money raised went to concussion research.
While telling his story, there were prizes given away, including a signed Sidney Crosby Team Canada jersey and other hockey memorabilia.
The night also gave a chance for the first-time coach to give his team the feeling of playing in a professional setting to cap off a season of treating his players like pros. Throughout the season, he made player profiles, wrote pre-game and post-game reports, write-ups and even made hockey cards and posters for the team.
After Oliver’s latest concussion in 2006, he was relieved of his duties as infantry officer stationed in CFB Shilo and could no longer go on tours overseas, sending him into a deep depression he still wrestles with when he’s alone.
He said the only place he feels happy is at the rink.
"When I’m at the rink I’m a different person," Oliver said. "I feel better, I feel safe, I feel alive."
Along with his intense focus on treating his team like all-stars, Oliver also has another way of battling his concussion-induced depression.
While desperately scouring the Internet for ways to dim the symptoms of his last concussion, Oliver stumbled across a small figurine of former NHL goaltender Ken Dryden in 2011, which he couldn’t afford. So he decided to make one himself, which became a way to fill the moments of deep depression. The hobby flourished into a business for the now-retired military officer, creating and selling custom sports figurines through his website, li2000.com.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 25, 2013