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Injured teen hockey players are making progress, slowly

By Kathy McCabe and Jeannie Nuss
Globe Staff | Globe Correspondent / January 31, 2010

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Two Norwood High School varsity hockey players who sustained serious injuries just days apart are making slow progress, with one teen released from Children’s Hospital Boston and the other’s condition upgraded, a school official said.

Christopher O’Brien, a senior defenseman and captain, was released Thursday night from Children’s Hospital Boston, where he was treated for a severe concussion from the day before during a game against Milton High School.

“I think Chris will be fine,’’ Brian McDonough, Norwood High School athletic director, said yesterday afternoon. “The plan is that he will stay at home for a while . . . before he goes back to school.’’

O’Brien’s parents could not be reached for comment. O’Brien, who is 17, is not expected to rejoin the team this season, McDonough said.

He was injured four days after Matthew Brown, sophomore defenseman, broke his neck in a game last Saturday against Weymouth High School.

Brown, 15, who had a seven-hour surgery last week, has been upgraded from critical condition and was listed in serious condition yesterday at Children’s Hospital Boston, a spokesman said.

Brown’s parents could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The injuries stunned the close-knit hockey team. The team postponed two games, but will resume play on Wednesday, McDonough said.

In Holliston, a high school wrestler escaped serious injury during a team practice Friday night. Jake Battersby, who turns 16 today and is a sophomore at Holliston High School, was taken by ambulance to MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham as a precaution, according to his mother.

“With sports injuries in general, as a parent, you worry,’’ said his mother, Jeannie Battersby, during an interview at her home. “Then again, you want them to play sports.’’

McDonough said he visited with Brown in the hospital on Friday. Brown did well through his surgery, and is expected to recover, he said.

“It’s going to be long and slow,’’ he said. “Eventually, he’ll be moved to a facility for adolescents who have spinal cord injuries.’’

Area high school hockey teams have been holding raffles to benefit the family, McDonough said. Former Olympic and BU hockey star Mike Eruzione visited Brown in the hospital, leaving him with an autographed replica of the USA Hockey jersey worn by the team that won the gold medal in 1980.

“I want to give a shout-out to all the hockey parents and organizations throughout the state,’’ McDonough said. “They’ve really stepped up. The hockey community is very special.’’

Kathy McCabe can be reached at kmccabe@globe.com.