BOSTON (CBS) – She was living out her dream, playing in the Women’s Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium, but now Denna Laing may be facing a long recovery.
For the 24-year-old forward it was a landmark moment. Her Boston Pride professional women’s hockey team playing a game that was a massive step forward for the sport. “This could be the most exciting day of my life,” she wrote on her Facebook page.”Headed outdoors at 2 p.m. to play in the first ever Women’s Winter Classic.”
But late in the first period, the unthinkable, when she lost her footing, crashed into the boards, and was seriously injured, taken from the ice on a stretcher. “I stopped breathing,” said Carl Gray who owns the Concord hockey rink where Laing began the sport in earnest at 9 years old under the coaching of her father, bringing home championships.
She excelled in high school and college hockey at Princeton, joining the Pride in the newly formed National Women’s Hockey League this season. “Her ability to interrelate was very strong. The fact that she was voted by players at Princeton to be captain as a freshman is like ‘wow’, that doesn’t normally happen,” said Gray.
How the accident happened, bringing a frightening and somber moment to the Winter Classic on New Year’s Eve is still unclear, though there were concerns about ice conditions on the sunny day. Friends have now set up a GoFundMe page to help the family with medical expenses which continues to grow, along with emotional support.
“It’s going to be her will to not get discouraged,” said Gray. “It’s a great strong support network.”
Laing is currently working as a Victim Witness Advocate for Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett who said in a statement, “I have every confidence that Denna will face the recovery process with the same upbeat attitude and determination that she brings to her work.”
Her family is keeping the details of her condition private.