Bulldogs honor injured Bishop Feehan hockey player
FALL RIVER — Old Rochester lost 4-1 to Somerset Berkley on Feb. 3, but for the Bulldogs, the game was about a lot more than winning.
Head Coach Zach Ledogar said despite the loss, there was still plenty to be proud of — especially how his players banded together to support an injured member of the New England hockey community: Bishop Feehan player AJ Quetta.
“Hockey, no matter where you play, is a community,” Ledogar said. “The least we can do is honor him.”
Quetta suffered what his family said was a spinal cord injury after he crashed head first into the boards during a game against Pope Francis High School in West Springfield on Jan. 26.
The Bishop Feehan center was taken to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield that night and then to Massachusetts General Hospital where he underwent spinal surgery.
“It’s not something that happens often, but when it does it’s absolutely tragic,” Ledogar said. “You especially hate to see it happen to young kids.”
To honor Quetta as he recovers, the Bulldogs hung No. 10 jerseys — Quetta’s number — on the back of their bench. The team also wore shamrock stickers with his number on their helmets during their matchup against the Raiders, who did the same thing.
“They play hockey — they’re family,” ORR senior defenseman Brady Becotte said. “We know those kids on Feehan, we’ve played with them pretty much our whole lives.”
Along with honoring Quetta on the ice, the Bulldogs are also trying to raise money to help cover his medical expenses.
Becotte noted that not long after Quetta’s injury, he and other student athletes at Fairhaven High School have been trying to sell “AJ strong” bracelets and donate the profits toward Quetta’s recovery.
“We’ve been chipping in every way we can,” the Fairhaven High senior said.
So far, nearly $790,000 has been raised through a GoFundMe set up by Quetta’s sister Elyse. Among the many donors include a “minimum donation of $100,000” from the Boston Bruins, along with a pledged match of up to $25,000 of the money raised from Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
“As long as we stick together, we can raise as much money as possible,” Becotte said.“This is bigger than hockey.”