Connecticut High School Student Dies In Tragic Hockey Accident

A sophomore student from New Canaan, CT, has died from a traumatic neck injury during a junior varsity hockey game last week. Teddy Balkind, a St. Luke’s School hockey player, died Thursday, January 6, during a game after he had fallen and another player ran into him who was “unable to stop,” causing the on-ice collision, police told The Greenwich Time.

Balkind’s neck was cut by the skate of an opposing player from Brunswick. He was treated on the ice but did not survive emergency operation after being taken to Greenwich Hospital, according to information from the school obtained by ABC News.

St. Luke’s closed school Friday, January 7, and had a delayed opening the following Monday, January 10, to mourn the loss of Teddy. During that weekend, residents took to social media posting pictures of hockey sticks outside their front door with the hashtag #SticksOutForTeddy.

Hockey sticks outside a home for #SticksOutForTeddy honoring Teddy Balkind. (Rocco Lucia/AITE Edge)

The hashtag quickly spread throughout social media, eventually catching the attention of the National Hockey League (NHL) and hockey families across the country, with everyone sending their condolences to Teddy’s family, friends, teammates, and everyone affected by the tragedy. 

After his death, Sam Brande, one of Teddy’s closest friends, wanted to do something about the horrible tragedy. “As soon as I heard about the accident and what happened, I was really motivated to get the (neck guard) rule changed in USA Hockey,” Brande said. “In order to bring awareness and to show USA Hockey it’s a real issue, and that people care, I should start a petition and see how many supporters I could get,” he said.

Although USA Hockey highly recommends players wear a neck guard, it is not required.

Brande went to to start a petition to make neck guards mandatory in USA Hockey. “I lost one of my best friends due to lack of player safety rules in USA Hockey,” Brande wrote. “Please consider signing this so we can raise awareness and nobody needs to lose a loved one in a avoidable accident. Thank you,” he finished. The petition already has 50,000 signatures and counting.

On the behalf of the AITE community, we send our thoughts and prayers to Teddy’s family, friends and everyone who was affected by this terrible accident.