Sarnia hockey referee bounces back

A Sarnia hockey referee who was knocked unconscious during a game March 7 is ready to lace ‘em up again.

Mark Colbran was reffing an Ontario Minor Hockey Association semi-final game in Petrolia when he fell in front of the penalty box, hitting his head on the boards and ice.

Colbran was unconscious about 20 seconds before he came to, staring into the face of the Oilers trainer Nick Salaris.

“I knew I hit the board, and then next thing I know I was looking at Nick … there was block of time I was missing.”

Salaris said Colbran’s first words were to call in another referee.

“I wanted to make sure the game got in,” says Colbran who schedules referees for games in Sarnia. “I didn’t want to be the reason a game wasn’t completed.”

Colbran lay on the ice attended by Salaris, an OPP auxiliary member and a volunteer firefighter until paramedics arrived. He spent four hours strapped to a backboard, first at Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital and then at Bluewater Health in Sarnia before a CT scan confirmed no serious damage.

Colbran, who experienced headaches afterward, has seen video of the fall and describes it as violent.

“There was no residual damage to brain, neck or back, no broken vertebra or anything displaced or cracked,” he says. “I’m glad it wasn’t any worse than it was,” he says.

“You’re flying down the ice on millimeter-wide blades and the ice is not always perfect; it happens. It’s not going to stop me from reffing.”

In fact, Colbran hopes to be back on the ice for Petrolia’s OMHA final series against Penetanguishene.

“I’m hoping to get one of the games in the next series so I can finish a game in Petrolia.”

– Heather Wright is the publisher and editor of The Independent in Petrolia.