Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ian Jenkins - The Game That Brought Out The Best

To some, hockey is just an event.  For others, it has become a religion.  For casual and crazed fans, alike, hockey has been woven into the fabric of North America and has become a staple throughout Canada and the Northern US.  From 1917, when the NHL first began, kids have always dreamed of lacing up the skates, throwing their teams crest over their pads, and hitting the ice in front of thousands of fans cheering them on.  There isn’t anything like it.  Millions of people have dreamed of playing in the NHL but only a select few put in the hard work and dedication it takes to make that dream a reality.

Ian Jenkins, a 15 goalie of Ypilsanti, Michigan, has had that dream since he was a little kid growing up in the upper Midwest.  Michigan has spit out a ton of popular NHL talent over the years.  Some famous Michiganders are Mike Modano, Pat Lafontaine, Derian Hatcher, Tim Thomas, and Ryan Miller.  Ian Jenkins wanted to be mentioned in the same breath as the last two.

A goalie by trade, Ian has played for the powerhouse Honeybaked ice hockey team as well as Belletire in his home state.  In 2010-11, Jenkins powered Honeybaked with a 15-2-0 record in 17 appearances while posting a 1.80 goals-against-average.  Pretty damn good for a 15 year old, if I do say so myself.  Two weeks ago, Jenkins was the second round pick of the London Knights in the OHL draft.  Things could only go up for Ian.  But things are never as they seem and in a split second that dream quickly faded.

No precise details have been made available about the incident in which Ian Jenkins hit his head against the ground, but he is now in critical condition at the University Hospital at the University of Michigan.  Here is the link to the story:
Also, word is that his family took Ian off life support sometime yesterday.  The outlook is not very good, but Ian has been a fighter through and through.  I spoke to a few players who have played with/against Ian Jenkins and these are some of things they had to say about the talent that Ian brought on and off the ice, as a player and a person.

“I remember playing against him in the Silverstick Tournament. He shut us out and seemed unstoppable.  He would of been great in the OHL and was one of the top goalies coming from the US.  He would have had a great career if the accident never happened.” – Jimmy Lodge, drafted by Saginaw Spirit

“I didn’t know him much but I got to talk to him a few times, and he was a real outgoing nice guy. He was a great goalie, one of the best ive ever played against. And the whole hockey world is with him, hoping for a miracle.” – Anthony DeAngelo, drafted by Sarnia Sting

"We played him at Sliverstick, and he was phenomenal.  He shut us out and led Honeybaked to win the tournament.  He was a great goalie, and definately had a bright future if it wasn't for the accident. I didn't know him that well, but talked to him a couple times when I played in the states. He was probably one of the top, if not the top goalie in North America." - Alex Sifton, Vaughan Kings

“I played against Ian during the summer.  He was an amazing goalie, an all-around solid goaltender that had a chance to take it to the next level.  I believe he was a top 3 goalie in all of Canada and the USA for all 95’s.  It’s tragic what happened and my heart and prayers go out to his family.” – Thomas Welsh, drafted by Sarnia Sting

“I have played against Ian for nearly my entire hockey career, going back to the Toronto Marlies-Detroit Honeybaked rivalry when we were 11 years old.  Ian would always be the deciding factor of those games. The best goalie hands down that I have ever played against and, more importantly, the nicest guy I have ever met. There wasn’t one person that knows Ian that could say a single bad thing about him.  He was going to the NHL, for sure. I had the pleasure to not only play against him, but play with him at camps in the summer down in Detroit or in spring hockey. Everyone should be praying for the family of the nicest kid around and the best goalie I have ever played against.” – Max Domi, drafted by Kingston

“Ian and I have been friends since an early age, and it was always a joy to play against him. He was an awesome friend and I think our friendship grew stronger every time we played against each other. It was an honor to know and play against Ian. He was a great person and I will never forget the great experiences I have had with him.” – Adam Erne, committed to BU

See, for Ian Jenkins, hockey wasn’t just a game.  It was a need.  It wasn’t a “take it or leave it”.  It was a “gotta have it”.  Hockey was a game that Jenkins dominated and people took notice.  Jenkins was able to steal games by himself, able to play at a top tier level every night, able to frustrate opponents and make them think that nothing could beat him.  But as good as he was on the ice, he was an even better person off of it.  He knew no matter how good he was, he was still never bigger than the game.  The same game that brought about great friendships with teammates, with opponents, and with family and friends.  Ian went through the ups and downs with all of the teams he played for, but as a hockey community, this is the newest low for us. 

Everyone hates to see a talent go down like that, with that much promise, poise, and compassion, but he’s down and not out and needs our help more than we need his.  Ian is fighting for every inch as he has since he strapped on goalie pads for the first time.  Hockey brings the best out in people and it brought the best in Ian Jenkins, but with the news of his situation, Ian is returning the favor by bringing out the best in us.  With the odds stacked against him, messages and well-wishes have been pouring over the internet in hopes that Ian will come back from this as if nothing happened in the first place. 

Not only was Ian Jenkins the best goalie, but he was also the best person.

Update: Ian Jenkins lost his battle early this morning. Rest in peace, Ian.

Morris Dalla Costa of the London Free Press reported this morning (May 23, 2011):

Ian Jenkins, a 15-year-old-hockey prospect who has been fighting for his life since sustaining a head injury Wednesday, died at University Hospital in Michigan. 

"We want to let everyone know that as he always did, Ian battled right up to the final buzzer but he lost at 7:54 this morning," read a statement issued by his father Joel. "He will be missed. We thank everyone for everything they have done over the past few days." 

In a statement issued Saturday Joel thanked everyone for the support the family has received. 

"When there is a resolution we will share it. In case the worst happens, we have already made arrangements for Ian to live on -- and save lives through organ donation," he said in the statement.

Bill Dark, Knights goaltending coach who worked with Jenkins said it was a 'sad, sad, day for everyone."

"We have to think of Joel, Debbie an their other three children," Dark said. "I was talking to them (Saturday) night and Joel said in an ironic twist of fate, the accident happened on the 19th day, the fifth month and the 11th year when added up to Ian's number 35."


Anonymous,  May 22, 2011, 9:06:00 PM  

A great writeup for an even greater kid. Our prayers continue Ian.

Kristie May 22, 2011, 9:23:00 PM  

Thank you for a beautiful article on a beautiful soul. Ian touched many, both on and off the ice. He and his family are in our prayers.

Anonymous,  May 23, 2011, 5:26:00 AM  

The tragic events of this past week have touched our family deeply. Someone so special....can never be forgotten. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the Jenkins family during this difficult time.

Lorraine, Mike, Thomas Welsh

Juliana May 23, 2011, 9:20:00 AM  

Hi. I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. I am a reporter writing a story about Ian for the local paper. Is there any way you could put me in touch with any of Ian's friends or coaches? Thanks-Juliana (734) 623.2528,

Anonymous,  May 23, 2011, 1:00:00 PM  

A gifted and blessed child with heart. It was a true blessing to know him and the family that gave its all to him and his siblings. The support of his friends assures me that he shared the love that was given to shown to him. May his life be a great example to all that knew him.

a2musictoo May 23, 2011, 6:21:00 PM  

Ian was such a sweet boy, just one of the nicest kids I've met. I'm so very sorry to his family for the loss.

Anonymous,  May 25, 2011, 5:28:00 AM  

As a hockey family, we are feeling deep sorrow for the loss of such a fine young man. We have a 15 year old son who is also a goalie and a fine young man. Our prayers are with your family.

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