Saturday night ended with a win for Cornell against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 3-2, in a grudge match between the two competitors. But it also ended with a season-ending injury for sophomore forward Cole Bardreau.
An MRI later revealed that Bardreau fractured his neck due to the force of the hit — he was later seen on Tuesday, watching practice from the sideline, while wearing a neck brace.
“He’s a lucky human being. He’s a very lucky kid. He had no pain or anything like that throughout the course of the game — no indication — but he’s a tough kid,” head coach Mike Schafer ’86 said.
At 9:34 of the first period on Saturday, Bardreau was hit into the boards from behind by RPI’s Greg Burgdoerfer, which resulted a five-minute major and a game misconduct for RPI. Bardreau sat out for just one shift, but returned to finish the rest of the game against the Engineers despite being serously injured.
“That was the was the scariest part about it. You never know, one more hit to the back again [and] he could have been paralyzed,” said sophomore forward John McCarron. “And we thank God . . . that he only has to wear a brace and we’re happy with that. He got pretty lucky.”
The loss of Bardreau will be significant for the Red, but junior teammate Dustin Mowrey will step in and take his place for the rest of the season in the front for the Red. Despite Bardreau’s injury, the Cornell players said that they have his back.
“Growing up, you were always taught [that] when somebody gets wronged on your team you’ve got to take care of it, so I think our team knew that. I was there on the ice. I stepped in for [Bardreau]. Unfortunately it’s college hockey — you’re not allowed to fight really, but that kid knows what’s coming for him. No threatening or anything, maybe [Burgdoerfer] didn’t mean to do it, but he knows he did something wrong,” McCarron said.
Bardreau returned to the Red a few weeks ago, after being part of the U.S.’ gold medal win at the Junior World Championships in Russia after defeating Sweden in the finals.
“It’s unfortunate for the young man to be so high with the World Junior [Championship] and the gold, and then come back and get hit from behind and fracture his neck and be out for the season,” Schafer said. “Devastating for Cole.”
“It was a huge blow to us. [Bardreau is] such a big part of our team. I can’t even imagine how high his emotions were [after winning the Junior World Championships in Russia] — to get this [injury] is probably an all-time low in his life. It’s hard to deal with,” McCarron said. “He’s going to support our team; he’s going to be with us here [for] the rest of the way. We all hope [for] the best for him, we’re going to look out for him.”
“We played without him a little bit, obviously when he was [at] World Juniors, and we’ll adapt, but [it’s] devastating for him that his season ends that way,” Schafer said.
Original Author: Haley Velasco