Amateur Hockey Player Killed After Puck Strikes Chest

An amateur hockey player died after a puck struck him in the chest and caused him to go into cardiac arrest late Thursday, officials said.

Nathan Crowell, 22, a University of New Haven student, was pronounced dead at Bridgeport Hospital shortly after the incident during a league game at a Shelton hockey rink, police and team officials said.

His death remained under investigation Friday, but police said no foul play is suspected.

Crowell, who is from Portsmouth, R.I., tried to block an opposing player's slapshot with 3 seconds left in the game when the puck struck him and he collapsed, said Howard Saffan, a co-owner of the SportsCenter of Connecticut facility.

Crowell was wearing the required chest protector and other gear, but the puck apparently struck an unprotected part of his torso just below the pad, Saffan said.

A doctor playing in the game immediately began treating Crowell and gave him CPR until an ambulance arrived to take him to Bridgeport Hospital, but he could not be revived.

The rink's staff and fellow hockey players are "devastated," said Saffan, who also is president of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers team of the American Hockey League.

"You build a rink for the community and to make a positive impact in the community, and to have something like this happen is devastating," he said. "It has sent shock waves throughout the facility."

The referee and the player who made the shot are both devastated, Saffan said.

"He is tormented by what happened," Saffan said.

Similar fatal injuries have occurred in other sports, such as youth baseball, when an unprotected player is struck in the chest by a ball and the blow stops the player's heart.

In 1998, St. Louis Blues defenseman Chris Pronger suffered an acute heart attack after being hit the chest during a National Hockey League Stanley Cup playoff game. He recovered, but was sidelined for a few games.