BRANDON -- Optimism and relief are slowly replacing the worry that struck the Brandon Wheat Kings when leading scorer Jayce Hawryluk was hospitalized after leading the team to a key victory on Wednesday night.
The Western HockeyàLeague club reported Thursday Hawryluk was feeling well as he underwent tests at the Brandon Regional Health Centre.
"We don't know a lot today other than everything's gone well," Wheat Kings head coach and general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. "Jayce is completely normal, feeling fine. Of course they're doing lots of different tests to see if there's anything that they can identify as a concern or a cause of what happened, and we haven't been given any feedback as to how any of that has gone other than to have been told there's no red flags, nothing alarming at this point. So we're optimistic that it's not as serious as what these things sometimes can be or what you sometimes let your mind fear."
Hawryluk, 18, led the Wheat Kings to a gripping comeback victory over the Regina Pats Wednesday at Westman Place, scoring three times as Brandon won 5-4 to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final. McCrimmon said that as the team headed to the locker-room, the Roblin native felt light-headed and had trouble catching his breath, prompting the doctor on duty to ask that he be sent to the hospital for tests.
The incident was disconcerting for players on both sides, among them Pats forward Rylee Zimmer, who is from Russell and played his minor hockey with Hawryluk.
"I went and saw him in the ambulance. I was talking to him a bit; he wasn't really talking too much," said Zimmer, a 17-year-old rookie, who did not play in the game. "But I texted him today and he's doing better. It's a bit scary but he's doing better, so that's really all that matters."
McCrimmon said the Wheat Kings staff gathered the team together Wednesday night to talk about the situation and give them updates, adding that Thursday's encouraging news is helping to put the players at ease.