NBCPhiladelphia.com - David Hall, Brian Grob
The tender moment of a father taking his only daughter to her first hockey game nearly turned tragic Monday night after an errant puck hit the girl in the head.
But, don’t think a puck to the head could keep this tough little Bucks County girl from loving hockey.
Todd Kowalski and his 7-year-old Isabella were sitting in fourth-row seats at the Wells Fargo Center and enjoying some snacks.
“I thought it would’ve been the best day ever,” the Warrington, Pa. girl said.
But just minutes into the Flyers 5-1 win over the Ottawa Senators, the great day turned into a momentary nightmare. A deflected puck off the stick of Sens winger Ryan Shannon came flying into the stands and hit Isabella in the head.
“It hit my head and then the cotton candy got in my hands,” Isabella simply said.
Her father described the traumatic incident in a bit more detail.
“It was just a freak play,” Todd said. “A player went to pass the puck... and it deflected off a stick, off the glass and it came flying into the crowd.
“Everything happened so quick -- there’s no reaction time -- you couldn’t see it. Just hear the worst sound of your life. The tone of her voice when she called, ‘Poppy.’ And I looked over and saw the hole on her head.”
The game was stopped as medical personal tended to the gash above Isabella’s left eye and Flyers defenseman Sean O'Donnell brought over a towel to help stop the blood.
Within minutes, Todd carried Isabella out of the arena. She was taken to Methodist Hospital and received five stitches just over her swollen eye.
Thankfully despite a black eye she is going to be OK.
The Fly Guys gave her some goodies and the Sens Shannon even gave her one of his hockey sticks.
Things could have been worse, back in 2002 a 13-year-old girl was killed after a puck struck her while she was watching a Columbus Blue Jackets game.
And don’t you think that Isabella holds any grudges. She even wrote a letter while at the hospital to the player who fired the puck.
“Thank you for the hockey stick,” Isabella wrote to Shannon. “I feel better. I got five stitches but they don’t hurt.”
That’s some toughness from the little hockey fan. And don’t think that for one minute that Isabella won’t be at a Flyers game sometime soon.
“I like hockey and I want to get to another game but sit a little bit farther,” she said with a smile.
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