Optimism and relief are slowly replacing the worry that struck the Brandon Wheat Kings when top scorer Jayce Hawryluk was hospitalized after leading the team to a key victory on Wednesday night.
The Western Hockey League club reported on Thursday that Hawryluk was feeling well as he underwent tests at the Brandon Regional Health Centre.
"We don’t know a lot today other than everything’s gone well," Wheat Kings head coach and general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. "Jayce is completely normal, feeling fine. Of course they’re doing lots of different tests to see if there’s anything that they can identify as a concern or a cause of what happened, and we haven’t been given any feedback as to how any of that has gone other than to have been told there’s no red flags, nothing alarming at this point. So we’re optimistic that it’s not as serious as what these things sometimes can be or what you sometimes let your mind fear."
Hawryluk, 18, led the Wheat Kings to a gripping comeback victory over the Regina Pats on Wednesday at Westman Place, scoring three times as Brandon won 5-4 to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final. McCrimmon said that as the team headed to the locker-room, the Roblin native felt light-headed and had trouble catching his breath, prompting the doctor on duty to ask that he be sent to the hospital for tests.
The incident was disconcerting for players on both sides, among them Pats forward Rylee Zimmer, who is from Russell and played minor hockey with Hawryluk.
"I went and saw him in the ambulance. I was talking to him a bit; he wasn’t really talking too much," said Zimmer, a 17-year-old rookie, who did not play in the game. "But I texted him today and he’s doing better. It’s a bit scary but he’s doing better, so that’s really all that matters."
McCrimmon said the Wheat Kings staff gathered the team Wednesday night to talk about the situation and give them updates, adding that yesterday’s encouraging news is helping to put the players at ease.
"I think lots of the players themselves have been in contact with Jayce today, so I think that gives them some peace of mind," he said.
The Wheat Kings tried to put their worries aside and went back to work on Thursday as they practised in preparation for Game 4 of the series tonight at Westman Place.
"Obviously, we’re going to rally around it," said John Quenneville, Hawryluk’s linemate. "Jayce is one of our best players and he means a lot to our team, not only on the ice but in the dressing room; he’s a great guy. We’re obviously pretty shaken up about the situation, but we’re going to use it and play well for him."