MINNEAPOLIS- The father of the second Minnesota hockey player to be seriously injured in just over a week by being checked from behind into the boards said her spirits were "up and down" Sunday and she still had no feeling in her lower body.
Jenna Privette, 18, of Lakeville, a senior at St. Croix Lutheran High School in West St. Paul, remained in satisfactory condition at Hennepin County Medical Center. Her father, Dan Privette, said Sunday afternoon that there hasn't been much change in her condition since Saturday, when she started feeling tingling and pain in her arms and hands. He said she was on pain medication and trying to rest.
He said he watched as his daughter was checked from behind into the boards in a game Friday night. He said he didn't believe the hit was malicious, but he thought the referees should have called a penalty because no checking is allowed in Minnesota high school girls' hockey.
Jenna was injured in a game she'd dedicated to Jack Jablonski, 16, a Benilde-St. Margaret's player who is not expected to walk again as a result of the spinal cord injuries he suffered Dec. 30 when he was checked from behind in a junior varsity game against Wayzata and hit the boards head first.
Privette said Jenna and her teammates used red tape to decorate their shirts in Jablonski's honor, and that Jenna had the injured teen's No. 13 painted on her cheek when she arrived at the hospital after her injury.
"I think they wiped (the paint) off in the trauma center," her father said.
Jenna's Facebook profile photo is an emblem that reads, "Jack Jablonski is in our hearts." Several of her teammates posted a new emblem Saturday that added, "Jenna Privette is in our hearts."
Her parents said the check reinjured an earlier back injury that had kept Jenna out of games until recently. An MRI showed no damage to her bones or spinal cord, her father said.
"It's similar to what she experienced in the past. ... Hopefully this is healable," said Carl Lemke, St. Croix's athletic director.
She played on the Minnehaha Saints, a team made up of players from St. Croix Lutheran, Minnehaha Academy and St. Agnes. They were playing against the Blades, a team from St. Paul public high schools.
Checking from behind is illegal in Minnesota boys' prep hockey because players don't see the hit coming and can't protect themselves, while checking of any kind is not allowed in girls' hockey, under Minnesota State High School League Rules.
Jablonski's mother, Leslie Jablonski, told his teammates her son had a huge breakthrough Saturday. Doctors had previously predicted that he would not be able to move his arm muscles below his triceps, but she said her son was able to lift one arm fully and also had significant movement in the other. She said that shouldn't be possible given where his spinal cord was injured.
The two cases have Minnesota youth players, parents and coaches re-examining the risks of taking the ice.
Tension over Jablonski's injury turned into brawling Thursday night in Winona, where a home player was checked from behind by an Owatonna player. Spectators watched as the checked player went after his opponent. Officials had to eject 10 players before calm was restored.
Hockey is "definitely under the microscope right now," Owatonna coach Josh Storm said on Friday. "For the past three days this is the only thing I've heard about in my locker room."
Ken Pauly, head coach at Benilde, agreed that the sport faces tough questions.
"I don't know how you couldn't have some hard questions after this," Pauly said. "My take is, you can't legislate against tragedy. But what can you do to lessen the likelihood that a tragedy will occur?"