Hundreds of Minnesotans and representatives of every level of Minnesota athletics took to social media Saturday to offer condolences to the family of 14-year-old Patrick Schoonover, the Eastview Bantam AA hockey player who died Friday after collapsing during a game in Brainerd.
“We lost our son Patrick last night,” said the family’s statement, which was posted on the Eastview Hockey Association’s website. Eastview High School, which is in Apple Valley, is in the Rosemount-Apple-Valley-Eagan School District. Patrick was an eighth-grader at Black Hawk Middle School in Eagan.
“He passed away unexpectedly playing the game he loved so much,” the family wrote. “We appreciate the outpouring of support from the Eastview and Minnesota hockey communities to our family. We want to thank his coach, first responders and the staff at St. Joseph’s for doing everything they could to help Patrick and for providing comfort to our family. We appreciate all of you. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Patrick’s coaches and teammates. He loved all of you. We ask for our privacy from the media at this time.”
Patrick is survived by his parents, Michael and Gayle, and three siblings, Abby, 18; Anna, 17, and Matthew, 11. His family lives in Eagan. His father is on the Eastview Hockey Association’s board.
The cause of Patrick’s death — and whether it might be linked to action during his youth hockey game against a Wayzata team — remained unclear Saturday. He collapsed on the ice at the Essentia Health Sports Center (formerly the Brainerd Area Civic Center) shortly after the start of Friday’s game.
Brainerd police declined to release any new information about the incident, including which medical examiner’s office will perform an autopsy.
Minnesota Hockey President Dave Margenau said he’s waiting to figure out exactly what happened on the ice before taking any action.
“Safety is always our top concern,” he said. “Until we know more about the facts of this case, it’s unfair to speculate that there was any unsafe behavior.”
At about 4:25 p.m. Friday, Brainerd police and emergency medical personnel responded to a report that a player was unconscious. A paramedic present had already begun to administer aid, and CPR was initiated when emergency medical personnel arrived, according to police.
Patrick was taken to Essentia Health St. Joseph’s Medical Center Brainerd, but he could not be revived.
The 16-team Battle for the Blue Ox Bantam Hockey Tournament was canceled, as was a high school girls’ hockey game scheduled at the arena later in the evening.
Wayzata coach Nate Hagemo said Friday night that his team expressed condolences to the player’s family and the Eastview team. “It was a really sad situation to witness,” he said.
Among those joining Saturday’s outpouring of mourning was Minnesota Wild Coach Mike Yeo. After’s Saturday 2-1 road victory over the Dallas Stars, Yeo opened his postgame news conference by mentioning Patrick and his family.
“It’s a tough thing. It’s a game that brings a lot of joy and happiness to a lot of us. So when something like that, something terrible, happens within it, it definitely hits you hard,” said an emotional Yeo, adding that his kids also play the sport. “But we just hope that we can be there any way that we can.”
The Eastview Hockey Association said Patrick’s Bantam AA team has asked everyone to share the theme of “Play for Patrick,” which quickly became a Twitter hashtag.
Among the flood of tweets on Saturday was one from Leslie Jablonski, mother of Jack Jablonski, who wrote: “Deepest sympathy to Patrick Schoonover’s family, friends+teammates. The State of Hockey surrounds them w/love+support.”
Her son, a hockey player for Benilde-St. Margaret’s, was severely injured after being checked from behind in a junior varsity game against Wayzata on Dec. 30, 2011. As he has made a partial recovery from and adjustment to paralysis, his family and story have inspired many in the youth sports community and beyond.