Junior C hockey player, Richie Compo, who represents the Junior Braves in the Noralta Junior C Hockey League, narrowly escaped death last week. Compo’s life hung in the balance as a hockey skate blade made direct contact with his neck in what was deemed to be a deliberate action.
Reflecting on the unsettling event at Castle Downs Recreation Centre in north Edmonton on September 27th, Compo relives the traumatic moment. He recounts, “I was on the ice when he stepped on my head. Checking my neck and hand, I saw blood and immediately tore off my helmet.”
At that perilous moment, Compo appealed for medical assistance from the opposing team’s trainer, desperately pleading, “Don’t let me die. I don’t want to die,” in a chilling conversation recorded by CTV News Edmonton. According to Compo, there was no physical pain. The dominant thought racing through his mind was the terrifying belief that he was about to die.
The young 20-year-old athlete was immediately transported to the hospital by ambulance, where he underwent immediate treatment, receiving over dozen stitches and spending the night to recuperate. Compo recounts that despite having the compulsory cage on his helmet and a neck guard, the blade nearly severed his jugular vein.
The seemingly intentional kick came from Nate Plaunt of the South West Zone Oil Kings. The incident led to Plaunt receiving a match penalty in the game’s final minute, with the final score favoring the Oil Kings at 9-5. Game referee, Spencer Acheson, in his submitted incident report to Hockey Alberta, confirmed that Plaunt was penalized for purposeful kicking, targeting the neck and face area of the opponent.
Acheson documented, “I considered the act to be a kicking motion and one that was violent considering the vulnerable position of the Braves player.” Plaunt faces an automatic three-game suspension, awaiting a disciplinary hearing where league authorities could decide a more severe punishment.
Chris Hurley, NJHL’s president, refrained from commenting on the situation pending the hearing results, while offering sympathy to Compo’s family and reaffirming the league’s commitment to ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for all its participants.
An assault complaint has hence been filed at the police department. Richie’s mother, Peggy McMillan, firmly believes her son was assaulted with a weapon and thinks legal consequences should follow, apart from league official actions. She rightfully argues, “Mistake, impulsive thing, it doesn’t matter. That impulsive decision could have taken my son’s life. There are consequences for actions, and they should know right from wrong.”
While Compo agrees that the kick was deliberate, he remains skeptical about whether his neck was the intentional target. He acknowledged, “I don’t think he meant to kill me or step on my head, but maybe my arm or chest.” He concludes, noting the incident as a needless and extreme display of aggression.