Ben Fanelli doesn’t remember the night he almost died on the ice.
He was a 16-year-old defenseman with the Kitchener Rangers when he went behind his net to retrieve a puck midway through a tilt against the Erie Otters on Oct. 30, 2009. It was his seventh game in the OHL, and it would be almost two years before he’d play another.
A charging Mike Liambas of the Otters slammed him into the boards with such force that it knocked Fanelli out cold and left him in a pool of blood. (Liambas was suspended for the rest of the season.) The impact broke Fanelli’s helmet and his head struck the partition in the glass. He was rushed to hospital in serious condition. He had a fractured skull and his brain was bleeding in three places.
Nine years later, and living in nearby Waterloo, Ont., Fanelli stil...
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