Hawks fan hit by puck at Stanley Cup finals

Tribune reporter

Patricia Higgins and her daughter, Caitlin, were seated in the United Center Wednesday evening waiting to see if the Blackhawks could score a tie-breaker in the first game of the Stanley Cup Finals when a player shot the puck in their direction.

“I heard the slap of the stick. Then I just saw a black thing whiz by my face,” said Caitlin Higgins, 26. “’I couldn’t even react. It happened so so fast.”

When Caitlin turned around she saw her mother bleeding, with her hands on her forehead.

“Then she looked at me and said, ‘I can’t see,’ ” Caitlin Higgins said. “At that point, I pretty much got really, really frightened.”

Security rushed to their aid. They put some Blackhawks fan towels on Patricia’s forehead to control the bleeding until an ambulance could take her to Rush University Medical Center, Caitlin Higgins said.

At the hospital, doctors checked to see that she didn’t have a broken nose or internal bleeding. But the puck had left a laceration, about an inch and a half long, from the bridge of her nose to right above her right eyebrow.
Doctors put in more than a dozen stitches to repair the external and internal tissue around her forehead.
“She was a trouper, she really never said anything about  pain,” Caitlin Higgins said. “I was crying hysterically, but she was very calm, very serene.”

The puck also left a bruise on her retina, leaving her with only about 50 percent of her vision. She is expected to regain it in the coming weeks, Caitlin Higgins said.
Patricia Higgins was able to return home yesterday but was still in a lot of pain.

“Hopefully in a couple of days (she) will be able to converse and relax a bit,” said her mother, who didn’t want to be named.
When the puck struck, the score was tied 3 to 3 in the third period with about two minutes to go. Caitlin said her mother was happy to learn the Blackhawks eventually won. They even want to find who has the puck that hit her and try to convince them to give it to them.

“Hopefully they will be able to give us a little bit of a …souvenir,” said Caitlin Higgins. “It did come flying at my mother’s face.”

The family has held season tickets for two seats in row 11, behind one of the goals, for several years. For the Stanley Cup, they decided to alternate who goes to each game.

Caitlin Higgins’ father and brother plan to go to Saturday’s game, and she and her mother hope to catch a later game in the tournament.
“We’re big-time Hawks fans,” Caitlin Higgins said. “We’re still gonna go to game five if there is game five, and we’re still gonna go to game seven if there is a game seven.”

WGN-TV contributed


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