HEBRON – For a moment, you could have sworn you could hear the ice settle.

Parents, players and coaches stared in stunned silence as Gray-New Gloucester/Poland defenseman Gardner Lajoie lay motionless on the ice, face down just inside the Skowhegan zone.

Parents craned their necks, referees immediately motioned for a trainer, coaches and for someone to call the paramedics. The rest of the players were shuffled back to their locker rooms as Lajoie remained face-down on the ice, advised not to move.

Seconds earlier, the junior defenseman was leading a rush up the left side of the ice. A Skowhegan defender steered Lajoie wide of center, toward his own bench.

At the same moment, a teammate crossed in front of him, either looking to join the rush or trying to get off for a change.

Lajoie jumped to his right, but lost his balance with a full head of steam. He stumbled back to the left – still at nearly-full speed – and ran shoulder and neck-first into the thinly-covered metal post at the end of the players’ bench, where the Plexiglas resumes.

“It looked like he tried to pull his head away at the last second,” teammate Cory Cormier said, “like he saw it coming.”

Upon their arrival, paramedics were able to remove Lajoie’s helmet, shoulder pads and skates after rolling him over into a backboard. They stabilized his neck, strapped him into a gurney and carried him off, 25 minutes after he first lost his balance and crumbled to the ice.

“He said he could move his limbs, but he felt a burning sensation in his neck to his left shoulder,” Gray-New Gloucester/Poland coach Brad Davie said.

According to those on the scene familiar with the situation, Lajoie was airlifted via Life Flight to Central Maine Medical Center. A nursing supervisor said Saturday night that Lajoie was treated and released.

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