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Accident gives Leafs' Henderson a new appreciation of life

Riley Henderson . . . from crash to All Star Game

By Bruce Fuhr
The Nelson Daily Sports


It wasn’t that long ago that Leaf D-man Riley Henderson led a carefree life.

Play hockey, enjoy life and play hockey.

However, life took a near-fatal turn for the Richmond native during a trip back to practice with the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League franchise following the Christmas Holiday break.

While driving outside of Castlegar in his vehicle, Henderson watched as his life passed before his eyes. His truck hit some black ice, spun out of control before contacting some pavement and rolling down an embankment.

“That was probably the most scariest things I’ve ever gone through in my life,” Henderson told The Nelson Daily following Wednesday’s 5-4 KIJHL victory over Grand Forks.

“It makes me realized just how lucky I am just to be playing hockey with such a great organization like the Nelson Leafs,” Henderson adds.

Henderson truck rolled a couple of times before resting on the four wheels.

Henderson, who said he went right into shock after the truck came to a halt, suffered a concussion along with some back problems. The accident caused Henderson to  miss a few games before being cleared to play by doctors.

However, coaches around the league already knew all about the 6’3”, 195-pound defenceman before the single-vehicle accident occurred.

So much so the KIJHL Allstar selectors were quick to make a call to Henderson and the Leafs when a spot became available.

That spot became vacant when Castlegar Rebel rearguard Darren Tarasoff listed himself at unavailable for Saturday’s All Star Game in Fernie.

“I found out just a couple of days ago that I would be going,” explained Henderson, with four goals and 17 assists in 31 games. “I was pretty excited when I got the call . . . and 18-year-old being picked to go to the All Star Game from the entire league is a pretty special thing.

“I called my parents right away to tell them the news,” he added.

Unfortunately, what’s good for Henderson turned bad for teammate Darren Hogg.

The burley netminder was chosen to represent the Leafs during the Prospect’s Game. But Hogg suffered a leg injury during last week’s game in Golden, forcing the South Okanagan native to pull his name from Fernie.

Hogg is not the only Leaf player forced to miss the contest. Nelson’s leading goal scorer Gavin Currie is also not going to make the contest after suffering an injury during the New Year’s Eve contest against Spokane.

Currie’s replacement is Ryan Aynsley of Castlegar. Alex Ross, also of the Rebels, is slated to make the trip instead of Hogg.

For Henderson, the news of being selected to the Allstar contest couldn’t have come at a better time.

Especially after his near miss outside of Castlegar.

“I’m going to enjoy this weekend,” Henderson confessed.

Even more so than before.

ALLSTAR NOTES: Cameron Dobransky and team captain Taylor O'Neil of the Leafs are also slated to be in Fernie during All Star weekend. . . .Friday, the Prospect’s Game is scheduled. After a banquet Saturday afternoon, the KIJHL stars take to the ice for the All Star contest. . . .Next game for Nelson is Friday, January 21 against Kelowna Chiefs.

sports@thenelsondaily.com