Originally created 12/22/99

Piersol, Lynx playing it safe



The throbbing in his head had him thinking he was run over by a Mack truck. Lynx defenseman Mike Piersol only hopes someone out there got the tag number.

Piersol was leveled by a Greenville player in the first period of Saturday's 1-0 loss to the Grrrowl and knocked out of the game with a concussion.

The problem, not counting the pounding headaches and disorientation, is no one knows who delivered the blow on the 24-year-old rookie, or even how it happened.

"I'm kind of in the dark," said Piersol, who is out indefinitely after he was diagnosed with a grade two concussion -- a grade one is the least serious, with a grade three being the most serious.

"I'd like to know how it happened," Piersol said. "I don't remember a thing about the first period, and the guys didn't see it. I'd like to see for myself if it was a legal hit."

The theory is Piersol, who also has a swollen lip and bruised cheekbone, was jolted in the face by a Greenville player's elbow or shoulder.

Though the Lynx have a videotape of the game -- the ECHL requires that the home team film each game and provide the visitors with a copy -- the first period is inexplicably missing.

Teammates are wondering if the hit was retaliation for a clean hit by Lynx winger Chris Thompson that knocked Grrrowl winger Mike Sylvia out of a game Nov. 20 at the Civic Center. The Lynx players were upset over disparaging comments in the Greenville paper made by Sylvia. The teams played back-to-back games Nov. 19-20.

Lynx coach Dan Wiebe says he hopes to receive a complete copy of Saturday's film and adds he will contact the league if it is discovered that Piersol was taken out by a cheap shot or illegal hit.

"I guess I got up and skated to the bench under my own power, but I don't remember anything about the first period," said Piersol, who said he suffered a grade three concussion a few years ago during his major junior career in the Western Hockey League.

"I felt OK on Sunday, but felt lightheaded and sore to the back of the head on Monday, so we decided to play it safe."

Piersol did not skate with the team on Monday, but was cleared by team doctors to return to practice Tuesday. But after experiencing more lightheadedness Tuesday, he likely will sit out tonight when the Lynx (10-16-2) travel to face the South Carolina Stingrays (13-11-4).

The Philadelphia native will be re-evaluated today to determine his availability for Thursday's game at home against Pee Dee.

Piersol is tied for the club lead in scoring among defensemen with one goal and 10 points despite only playing in 18 of 28 games.

"You don't want anyone out there at risk of suffering another (concussion), because there's always danger of having some permanent damage," Wiebe said. "At the same time, though, it's a rough game, and you've got to expect to get banged around a bit. I think Mike will be OK."

With a growing number of concussions that have sidelined high-profile athletes in recent years, trainer Brian Patafie says the Lynx are handling Piersol's injury with care, adhering to guidelines set by trainers and doctors in the National Hockey League.

St. Louis Blues winger Geoff Courtnall retired in November after suffering a second concussion in less than one year. In recent years, concussions have also sidelined such NHL headliners as Eric Lindros, Paul Kariya and Pat LaFontaine.

Piersol thinks the concussion scare is a bit overhyped.

"It's good to see they take precautions and don't put pressure on you to practice or play, but if this had happened to me 10 years ago, I would have been back playing in the third period," said Piersol, who missed eight games in November with an ankle injury. "I'm not really worried. This one is a minor bump compared to the one I got back in junior."

Wiebe suffered multiple concussions during his playing career and can attest to how concussions are now handled much differently.

"When I played, there wasn't so much safety stuff," said Wiebe, who played four seasons in the ECHL for Toledo and South Carolina. "When I played, you got your your bell rung, you took a shift off, and you got back out there. Not that I think that's the way it should be. That's just the way it was."

ONE-TIMERS:

Forwards Chris Thompson and Stewart Bodtker returned to practice Monday after missing the past two games with food poisoning, and will be in the lineup tonight. ... The ECHL is expected to announce All-Star Game rosters early next week. Center Lars Pettersen and left winger Wes Mason, both among the league-leaders in scoring, are likely candidates. Goaltender Judd Lambert also is a possibility. The game will be played Jan. 19 at the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville and will be broadcast Jan. 20 at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

Concussions Defined

Here is a look at the three grades of concussions, according to the Hughston Sports Medicine Clinic in Columbus, Ga.:

Grade I

Symptoms:

Mild bruising of brain tissue, most common form of head injury. Commonly known as 'having your bell rung.' Although no loss of consciousness, the athlete may briefly appear or act confused. However, he or she can remember all events following the impact.

Treatment:

Removed from competition for at least 20 minutes and examined every five minutes to rule out postconcussive symptoms. After three Grade I concussions in a season, player is advised not to play again for the season, and not be allowed to return to contact sports for at least 3 months.

Grade II

Symptoms:

The difference between a Grade II and a Grade I concussion is the presence of post-traumatic amnesia (loss of memory after the injury). Can't remember events following the impact and may not be able to recall events that led up to the injury.

Treatment:

Removed from competition for the day. May return to action if there are no symptoms after one week and no symptoms during testing (both at rest and with exertion). If athlete suffers a second Grade II concussion, removed from competition for one month.

Grade III

Symptoms:

Unlike a Grade I head injury, Grade III head injuries are easily recognized and apply to any athlete who loses consciousness for any period of time.

Treatment:

Hospital stay if any neurologic symptoms persist. May return to practice only after being symptom free for two weeks. If symptoms return, the athlete is removed from play for the season.