EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 28, 2011

Hyman back on the ice following nitrogen dioxide scare

High School Hockey
David Willis

Jack Hyman looked around the Proctor Academy locker room and knew something had to be wrong. "Everyone was saying they were having trouble breathing," said Hyman. "We were talking about how sick we felt and everyone's chest hurt. But we didn't know what was happening."

Later that day, the former North Andover High star and the rest of the Proctor hockey team had to be taken to the hospital, and it was discovered they had been exposed to toxic nitrogen dioxide gas due to a error at the hockey rink.

"It was pretty scary," said Hyman's father Jeffrey Hyman. "We are fortunate that Jack and the rest of the team, at least in the short term, seems no worse for the wear."

Jack Hyman and his teammate returned to the Proctor campus on Jan. 3, following the Christmas holiday. During practice that evening, the first signs of trouble occurred.

"A lot of guy were coughing really hard and feeling sick," said Hyman, a starting forward. "We thought it was because of the two weeks off. We figured if we just went to bed everything would be OK. But once we got off the ice, our symptoms deteriorated."

The following day, one of Hyman's teammates began coughing up blood. He was taken to a local hospital and first was diagnosed with pneumonia. He was then transferred to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center where a scan showed his symptoms were indicative to exposure to nitrogen dioxide.

"Tuesday night is when we realized we had a real emergency," said Chuck Will, Proctor's director of communications. "Every player was showing symptoms. The kids were taken the hospital and the state was immediately notified."

Hyman and nine other players were sent to Franklin Regional Hospital, while the rest were sent to Concord Hospital where tests showed they were all exposed to nitrogen dioxide. Hyman's group was sent home at 11:15 that night, while the other group was held overnight at the hospital and released the next day.

"It was a surprise that half the team was held at the hospital while the rest of us were sleeping at a dorm," said Hyman. "Guys were looking up what can happen to you with nitrogen dioxide poisoning. When you read it and see what could happen, it's a lot scarier. It's a toxic gas."

For the next two days, the players were reevaluated every four hours, including at night, at the school's health center to test the oxygen level in their blood, and they had to return to the hospital the following day for another chest x-ray.

According to Will, the players were exposed to the nitrogen dioxide at the team's hockey rink.

"That Monday morning, technicians deactivated the ventilation system to upgrade it," said Will. "The rink personnel, who were unaware, then did a major resurfacing of the ice with the zamoboni running for maybe 90 minutes straight while also using an edger.

"Both of those were powered by propane, which creates the chemical fume that is nitrogen dioxide. It would have been ventilated out, but instead it settled on the ice. When the players arrived to practice 7 hours later, they stirred it up and were exposed to the fumes."

The players were eventually deemed not to be in danger, but were told to stay off the ice for two weeks while recovering and had to postpone or cancel five games.

"It was frustrating," said Hyman. "Everyone wanted to play hockey again. We were itching to get back, but when we finally got out there it was tough because we hadn't skated in about a month."

But Proctor recovered quickly, and in their first game back the squad downed Rivers 5-2.

"The school responded so well to this," said Jeffrey Hyman. "Their sole focus was to make sure the kids were safe. The kids will be checked at the three, six, nine and 12 month points, and it was handled so well."

Point Dugan

Timberlane head coach Ryan Dugan didn't see the biggest point so far in his son's varsity career, but he did hear it.

Pat Dugan, a junior defenseman at Central Catholic, assisted on the first goal in the Raiders' victory over Andover on Saturday.

Ryan Dugan, a former Central Catholic assistant, was on his way out of the Lawrence Valley Forum on the way to Timberlane's game, when he heard the crowd erupt.

He then received a phone call from his daughter, informing the proud father his son had tallied his second assist of the season.

Upset special

Cody Carbone made the game of his career a memorable one.

The North Reading junior forward potted a pair of goals as the Hornets shocked Newburyport 2-1.

That would already be the early favorite for "Upset of the Year" since the powerhouse Clippers, Division 2 state champs in 2009 and runner-up last season, entered with a 7-1 record while the North Reading was just 3-6-1.

Even more impressive, Carbone had just two goals in the first 10 games of the season, and just two tallies all of last season.

Captain Conway

It was a slow start to the season for Brooks quad-captain Danny Conway of Andover, who had just two goals in the first 10 games of the season.

But he doubled that total on Saturday, finding the net twice in a win over Roxbury Latin.

Andover High's Tyler Weeks is on an even more impressive stretch, scoring a goal in each of his last three games after going the first nine without a tally.

Player of the Week

Nick Leonard, Central Catholic

The co-captain is doing it all for the surging Raiders. He scored key goals in wins over Andover and Chelmsford, and has registered two assists in each of the last three games, and six of the last seven. The versatile senior also dishes out some of the biggest hits around.

The Jack Hyman file

School: Proctor Academy

Hometown: North Andover

Position: Forward

Scarlet Knight success: As a junior at North Andover, finished tied for fifth in the area in goals (21). As a senior, was an Eagle-Tribune All-Star after ranking third in the area in goals (21) and tied for second in points (43).

Fitting in: Scored goal and assist in first game at Proctor. Has five goals and six assists through Wednesday. Learned about Proctor through then-North Andover coach Brian Keenan, a friend of Proctor coach and former NHL player Mike Walsh.

Up next: Hoping to play hockey in college, and has contacted NESCAC schools including Bowdin, Colby and Trinity.

On the pitch: Started at goalie for Proctor soccer team, earning team MVP honors.


1. Central Catholic8-3

2. Pinkerton9-2-1

3. Brooks6-4-1

4. North Andover6-5-1

5. Timberlane4-3-2

Honorable Mention: Andover (5-6-2), Windham/Pelham(5-5)

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