Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A grieving father reaches out

Hopes he can keep other kids from drinking too much

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It will take courage to bury their popular, handsome 19-year-old son.

It also takes courage for parents of dead junior hockey player Jordan Mistelbacher to discuss what they believe killed him: binge drinking.

They have a strong message for parents and teens: Don't drink too much. Those words have powerful weight, considering thousands of hockey fans and city residents are familiar with the Mistelbacher family -- a tight-knit clan of sports dynamos.

Jordan Mark Mistelbacher, who had returned to the city Sunday to play for the Winnipeg Saints, died Tuesday.

His parents claim friends watched him get sick after a night of drinking, but didn't get help.

His father, Mark Mistelbacher, wants no other family to suffer in the same way.

"Have the kids watch what they drink..., binge drinking is wrong," said Mistelbacher, a devoted hockey dad to Jordan, Brittany, 17, and Tyler, 21. "I'd like people out there to cherish their kids."

On Friday night, at the same Southdale Community Club and Arena where Jordan played many times for the home team Saints, his grieving father and brother dropped the ceremonial puck before the game.

Even though there were hundreds of fans watching, it was so quiet in the arena that onlookers could hear the puck hit the ice before a minute of silence.

 

Soon after, the Saints scored the game's first goal.

"He helped them score that first goal -- I just wish it had been him scoring it," Mistelbacher said.

Watching on the other side of the glass, several of Jordan's friends wore his hockey jersey with Mistelbacher emblazoned on their backs.

"He was everybody's all-star," said Dezsi Wiens, wearing a jersey from when Mistelbacher played in the AAA Allstar game.

"This is like a bad dream."

Nate Rubin, wearing a Warrior jersey, said Jordan's friends wanted to honour him by wearing the jerseys.

"We wanted to represent his love for the game. His memory will live on."

"This is just such a tragedy," said Cam Chalmers, wearing the Manitoba under 17 jersey in which Jordan's team won silver.

Mistelbacher and his wife, Lynne, are awaiting results of the medical examiner's report, but believe from accounts shared with them by health officials, police and Jordan's friends their son died accidentally due to overconsumption of alcohol.

Hours before a friend tried unsuccessfully to rouse the teen after he went out partying for his birthday, someone apparently saw him passed out.

"He got sick and nobody thought anything of it," Mistelbacher said. "He vomited and they thought he was OK, and he wasn't... If your friends do get sick and they're drinking large amounts, then just step in and help them, just don't think it's nothing."

Mistelbacher said his son had been stressed out from hockey, but excited about his return to Winnipeg.

"Parents out there, and athletes out there, and kids in general: Know when to stop.

"They have to know the limits of how much to drink, even if it's in bars or at parties or wherever it might be."

Members of the Everett Silvertips, where Mistelbacher played since 2007, will come here from Washington state for Jordan's funeral Monday at St. Bernadette Parish.

Jordan will be buried with his favourite hockey jersey.

Doug Stokes, Winnipeg Saints coach, said the Manitoba Junior Hockey League team is profoundly affected by the death.

"I guess it's an eye-opener for a lot of people... . I don't think any of us can take life for granted," said Stokes, who called the amount of alcohol consumed by young people "staggering."

"We'd be naive to think that it doesn't pertain to our league and our players... but I think that at a high level of hockey, they have to be in a competitive frame of mind daily -- obviously, that would restrict them to a great degree to a lot of what other kids may indulge in."

 

gabrielle.giroday@freepress.mb.ca

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca


What is binge drinking?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines binge drinking as five drinks for men and four drinks for women within a two-hour period. However, there are several factors that contribute to how drunk you get and how it affects your body. If you have two drinks in one hour, you’d have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of about 0.05. Alcohol doesn’t affect everyone in the same way. It depends on how fast you metabolize it. According to a study done by Kennesaw State University, here’s what to expect as someone goes on a binge:

1-3 drinks:

You’ll feel more relaxed, self-confident, and may have lower inhibition. Judgment may diminish, and the person may be slightly unco-ordinated and have a limited attention span.

3-5 drinks:

You’ll become even less co-ordinated. You might have blurred vision, slower reaction time, difficulty remembering your conversation or train of thought, loss of balance, or exaggerated movements.

6 drinks:

When a BAC reaches 0.3, a person is confused, dizzy, slurring their speech, and is clearly very intoxicated. They might be moody; either very affectionate or withdrawn, maybe even aggressive. The person might have a diminished ability to feel pain.

8 drinks:

As someone’s BAC reaches 0.4 per cent, they might become incapacitated, and lapse in and out of consciousness.

10 drinks:

When a person’s BAC nears 0.5 per cent, the person’s heart rate and breathing slows, body temperature decreases, which can cause death.

What is the law?

In Manitoba, you can have your licence suspended if police catch you driving with a blood alcohol concentration of more than .05. If the level is above .08, you could face criminal charges for impaired driving.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 17, 2009 B1

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