A busy Lower Mainland-area hockey linesman is nursing a broken jaw after experiencing “every official’s worst nightmare,” and donors are now rallying to help him pay bills.
Mike McGowan was sent to hospital in Surrey after getting hit in the face with a puck at Langley’s George Preston Arena on Saturday afternoon (Nov. 19), during a university-league game between Trinity Western Spartans and Calgary Dinos men’s teams.
Five minutes in, a shoot-in at full speed caught McGowan on the side of his jaw, resulting in multiple fractures and emergency surgery.
“Mike, being the tough SOB that he is, managed to stay on his feet and get himself to the tunnel,” says a GoFundMe page started by pals Corey and Brandon Koop.
“While the extent of the damage wasn’t apparent at first, it was easy to see it wasn’t good. With some of his teeth on the ice and a trail of blood to the locker room, it wouldn’t be until he got to the hospital that the rest of the damage would come to light.”
Corey Koop, who was reffing Saturday’s game, said McGowan’s jaw will be wired shut for at least six weeks. Originally from Mission, McGowan now lives in New Westminster, Koop said.
He helped launch the online fundraiser with a goal of $500, “just to give Mike a bit of a care package,” but close to $5,000 has now been raised to help McGowan.
“He’ll need a hand,” Koop said. “The hockey world, especially the officiating community, really rallied here, and Mike’s a pretty well known guy and does up to 10 games a week in minor hockey, on top of his WHL and American League schedule. People from all over chipped in, almost 100 donations, including one I saw from Australia.”
Now the question is how expensive McGowan’s dental work will be, Koop added.
“Hopefully this will take the financial stress off him, with him off work for at least six weeks, so he can relax and just get better. He has some big tournaments coming up.”
Koop thanked CIS team staff and doctors for helping McGowan at Saturday’s game. “He was able to skate himself to the bench, so there was a minor delay while we got him off the ice, and team staff and doctors helped him from there, so the game got going again after about five minutes, once we knew he was in good hands.”