Painful first impression can become lasting one

Following the puck no easier for veteran fan than his unfortunate wife

Sports Plus

March 31, 2002|By Andy Knobel | Andy Knobel,SUN STAFF

This, The New York Times reported last week, was her first hockey game.

He was a New York Rangers fan who had sat several times in the cheaper seats near the ceiling at Madison Square Garden. But when somebody gave Laszlo Tokolyi two tickets in the seventh row near one of the nets, he persuaded his wife, Gyongyi, to go see the Rangers play the Detroit Red Wings on March 17.

A handyman, Tokolyi does not often get $120 seats to see the Rangers face the best team in the NHL.

"OK, let's go," she said she told him. "I'll see how it's going to be. I don't really like hockey, but my husband said, `Oh, you should come because it's going to be good.' "

She enjoyed the game until midway through the third period. That was when a puck left the ice and hit her face, cut her skin, broke her nose, knocked her unconscious briefly and put her into a hospital.

"I saw the puck coming, and it went up in the light and disappeared," Laszlo Tokolyi told the Times.

When it landed, he rushed over to pick it up.

"I didn't know that she got hit," he said. "I turned around to show her, `Look, I have the puck.' Then I saw blood all over."

Gyongyi Tokolyi, 35, spent most of the night in the emergency room.

It could have been worse.

The night before she was injured, a 13-year-old girl, Brittanie Cecil, was hit in the forehead by a puck at a Columbus Blue Jackets game. Cecil died two days later from the rupture of an artery to her brain caused by her head snapping back.

"So sad," Gyongyi Tokolyi said of Cecil's death. She added that she was relieved that the puck that hit her did not strike some of the younger fans sitting nearby. "There were so many kids around," she said. "There was one who was 7 months old."

Would the couple attend another hockey game?

That depends.

She said: "I don't think so, no."

He said: "I don't know yet. It's a 50-50. Probably in a couple months I would feel different. Right now, no."

Cosmic awareness

In a commercial for the Seattle Mariners this season, manager Lou Piniella motions for center fielder Mike Cameron to move a few steps, just before a meteorite plummets to the spot where he had been standing.

A coach asks Piniella, "How'd you see that one coming?"

Says Piniella, "Just a hunch."

Fore!

Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction.

Three years ago, Orville Delong, then a 57-year-old from Cambridge, Ontario, was waiting to putt on the sixth green at Doon Valley Golf Club in Kitchener when he heard and felt something whiz past his ear.

"At first we thought somebody was shooting at us," he said.

Turns out it was a fist-sized meteorite traveling about 150 mph.

Delong told the Kitchener-Waterloo Record that this wasn't his first brush with death while golfing. He said he was blown off his feet when lightning struck a tree at Galt Country Club in 1977.

"I'm just having a little trouble getting partners to play with me," he said.

Evel Kentevel

Baseball's most current practitioner of living dangerously is San Francisco Giants second baseman Jeff Kent, who fractured his wrist last month either washing his truck or popping wheelies on his motorcycle - depending on which story you believe.

Bud Geracie of the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News believes the latter.

"The last Giant to hit for cycle," he wrote, "also is the last Giant to fall from one."

Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.

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