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UPDATED: Olson on road to recovery after being knocked out in hockey game

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PERHAM - A Detroit Lakes hockey player is recovering after suffering a hard check during the Laker's game in Crookston Tuesday.

Laker center Brandon Olson, who is a junior out of Perham, was knocked out for up to two minutes after being checked into the boards during the first period in Tuesday's game.

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After arriving back home in Perham after being driven home by a teammate's mother, since his parents (Ross and Traci) who couldn't make the game in Crookston, met them at the hospital.

Olson was diagnosed with bleeding of brain after a CT scan and was rushed to a hospital in Fargo by ambulance.

"By the time we hit Frazee )coming back from Crookston), I was just feeling miserable," Olson said. "I knew something was wrong then."

After a series of tests throughout the early morning hours, Olson was released from Sanford Hospital at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

The check which knocked Olson out, was not called a penalty, something in which infuriated DL head coach Chris Denardo.

"Brandon was skating down the side boards and into the corner to the puck," Denardo said. "The Crookston player came all the way across the ice and put his elbows up and crushed (Olson's) head into the boards.

"He was knocked out for at least two minutes."

The referee told Denardo he didn't call a penalty because it was a clean hit.

"Anytime a player gets knocked out after being hit into the boards, that is not a clean hit," Denardo added.

After Olson heard it was not called a major penalty, disappointment was the obvious feeling.

"That got me worked up a bit," Olson said. "With the Jabs (Jack Jablonski) situation and everything supposing to have been tightened up, I got a little upset it wasn't called."

Jablonski was a Benilde-St. Margaret's player who was left paralyzed following a check from behind in a junior varsity game last season.

But the concern for Olson's well-being trumped anything from the game.

"I don't care about the hockey side, I'm just glad he's doing well," Denardo said. "He's lucky, it could have been worse."

After the hit, Crookston athletic trainer Larry Anderson tended to Olson on the ice.

"When we got out to him, he was unconscious," Anderson was quoted in the Crookston Times article. "He was not moving, but I saw that he was breathing, so I was very happy about that.

"He hit his head on the boards and then on the ice. When we let him go, he was as clear as anybody. He passed everything (Dr. Erik Kanten) and I put at him."

Surprisingly, Olson's memory is clear before and after the crunching hit.

"First his elbow hit me in the helmet and then my head went flying into the glass," Olson said. "I guess then I was completely unconscious. When I woke up, I was dizzy and had some blurred vision."

Olson knew exactly where he was and what the score was at the time -- 2-0 in favor of Crookston. The Pirates eventually won 9-0.

"I had a really bad headache, but was able to shower and dress," Olson added. "Between the second and third period intermission, I could only focus on one thing and the rest of it was blurry. I was sweating, then shivering."

Olson's history of concussions is apparent, with five. But the first one occurred when he was three years old and his last one when he was eight.

When the news he had blood on the brain, that's when Olson started getting nervous. But he is grateful he was brought to the Perham hospital that evening and so are his doctors, parents, friends, coaches and teammates.

"The doctors said it was a very good choice to come in that night," Olson said.

He was brought to the Sanford Hospital, where he was hooked up to heart monitors and eventually had an MRI done.

The results came back positive.

"They said they still could see a cloudy spot on my brain where the blood was, but that it had stopping bleeding," Olson said.

With no contact for at least the next six weeks, Olson will have to take it slow and step by step.

But that's the only way he wants to take it.

"Yeah, definitely, this has gotten me nervous, because if it happens again, I could go brain dead," Olson said. "I will still keep my aggressive edge, but be more cautious when I go into the corner.

"Also, if it happens again, there's a very good chance I can't play contact sports again. I love being in sports and competing. It would kill me if I couldn't go out there with my teammates again."

Crookston head coach Jon Bittner relayed his well wishes to Olson and his family.

"Our main concern is for the young man who was hurt and I am very happy it looks like he will pull through," Bittner said. "I wish the best to the Detroit Lakes and Perham hockey communities and I am very happy he is making good progress."

Bittner also credited the medical staff on hand for their quick response.

"It was great work by Larry Anderson and Dr. Erik Kanten," Bittner said. "We are lucky to have such great training staff on hand."

Olson plans on listening to every word his doctors say and follow their instructions every step of the way.

The knockout hit was a life-defining moment for Olson, one in which he will not soon forget.

"One big thing I have learned is respect what the doctors say," Olson said. "Take recovery slow, don't come back too soon.

"You are given only one brain, so do it right."

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Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN. 
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