Safety Part of the Hunter's Success

Alicia Tipcke
Created: January 28, 2020 10:46 PM

"It was just kind of a known thing that you were going to play hockey."

Growing up in Alexandria, Minnesota, hockey was a family affair for Denfeld boys hockey Assistant Coach Ryan Geris. His dad and two older brothers ignited his passion for the sport. However in 2004, while skating as a defenseman for UMD, he heard life altering news.

"I played my first year and a half, maybe. Actually, it was a year and seven games, and then they basically said I'd never play again," recalled Geris.

At the time, he suffering from post-concussion symptoms. The game he loved, was causing him splitting headaches, but in his final year of eligibility, he returned to the ice.

"We explored it and got it approved and was able to play one more year. So it's pretty cool, but the experience like I tell these guys, when you're out and you watch the game from the stands, it's a different perspective and you can learn a lot just by watching," said Geris.

Now, he uses his real life experiences to educate his team. 

"Any symptoms you have to report it. That's what he says. He's really serious about that stuff," said Denfeld senior defenseman Dylan Jouppi on Geris.

The CDC estimates between 1.6-3.8 million concussions occur in sports annually. Nearly 65 percent in ice hockey result from a collision. Geris said that is in part because, "a lot of people teach giving a hit but they don't teach how to receive a hit."

"He always says keep your head up. You've got to have your head on a swivel, know what's going on around you, know who's coming at you. Know where everyone is at and if you have symptoms you have to report it," said Griffin Lehet, a senior forward for Denfeld, describing Geris' advice.

"You can't work through a brain injury so we're cautious to the furthest extent," echoed the head coach of the Denfeld boy's hockey team Dale Jago.

Caution has not been a detriment to the 7th ranked Hunters, sitting at 14-4-1. With six games remaining in the regular season, Jouppi said as a team they, "have to play hard. Keep practicing every day. Get better every single day. Hopefully the cards fall into place and we can get to the 'X'."


Alicia Tipcke

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