Paralyzed in crash, Humboldt player now eyes Paralympic gold

By Jill Martin, CNN


(CNN) -- His back broken, Ryan Straschnitzki of the Humboldt Broncos was paralyzed in the bus wreck that killed 10 of his junior hockey teammates, plus five others, last week in Canada's Saskatchewan province.

But that won't keep the 18-year-old from one day returning to the ice. Hearing his diagnosis -- paralysis from the chest down, his parents said -- seems merely to have shifted Ryan's focus.

"When they told us, Ryan just looked at us and goes, 'Dad, Olympic sledge hockey. I'll get us the gold," Tom Straschnitzki said in an interview with Global News.

The Paralympic sport, also known as "sled hockey," features athletes with a physical impairment in the lower part of the body using a double-bladed platform instead of skates and two sticks, each with a spike-end for pushing and a blade-end for shooting a puck into a goal.

Ryan also wants to get back to work, said his friend and trainer Cody Thompson, who runs White Collar Boxing Company. Thompson said Ryan told him he plans to keep his shifts in the gym at the end of this month.

"Straz is one of those guys that's going to be able to deal with it," Thompson told Global News.

The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League team was headed to a playoff game Friday when its bus collided with a tractor-trailer, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Days later, Straschnitzki "runs through in his head where everyone was sitting," his father said.

"He does have survivor remorse, (saying,) 'If I was sitting there, I wouldn't be here,'" Straschnitzki said. "We said, 'Pal, you're going to have that. You gotta be able to talk about it.'"

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