Ohio Teen-Ager Hit By Puck At NHL Game Dies

By RUSTY MILLER, AP Sports Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A teen-age girl hit by a puck at an NHL game has died, a hospital said Tuesday.

Children's Hospital said Brittanie Cecil, 13, died Monday night. The girl was struck in the head by a shot early in the Columbus Blue Jackets' 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Saturday night at Nationwide Arena.

"Our fans mean the world to us," said Doug MacLean, Blue Jackets general manager. "This loss has profound effect on the entire Blue Jackets family. As the father of a 14-year-old and an 11-year-old, I can't imagine the grief the family is experiencing."

Witnesses said the puck flew over the high glass at the west end of the rink, glanced off another spectator and hit the girl on the head. Jackets' player Espen Knutsen had made the shot. The teen was seen standing, with a jacket being held to her head, after being hit.

It is believed to be the first death of a fan hit by a puck at an NHL game.

NHL spokesman Frank Brown said Tuesday he could not recall any other fan killed by a puck.

He said one NHL player died from injuries suffered in a game. Bill Masterton died Jan. 15, 1968, days after falling.

Teams warn spectators over the public-address system about pucks flying into the crowd. They also place warnings on scoreboards and on the back of each ticket.

Although rare, spectators have been killed and seriously injured at minor league hockey games. In the low minor leagues and the amateur ranks, the glass is not as high around the rink.

A 21-year-old Canadian man was killed on March 5, 2000, after being struck by a shot that flew into the crowd during a South East Manitoba Hockey League game between Altona and Carman a week earlier.

A 9-year-old girl was killed by a stray puck in 1979 after being hit in the forehead during a game in Sainte-Marie.

In 1984, a 10-year-old boy in Spokane, Wash., was killed when hit with a puck while watching an exhibition game between the Spokane Eagles and Spokane Chiefs.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)