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Paralyzed Minnesota hockey player is home

ISANTI, Minn.--Matt Olson, the former hockey captain for Totino-Grace High School who was paralyzed from the chest down in February while playing with the Chicago Cougars of the U.S. Premier Hockey League, returned to his home in Isanti on Wednesday.

Matt Olson, a former Totino-Grace hockey captain who graduated in 2014, broke his neck and was paralyzed when he hit the boards during a game with the Chicago Cougars junior team on Feb. 21, 2016. Photo courtesy of Sue Olson.
Matt Olson a former Totino-Grace hockey captain who graduated in 2014, broke his neck and was paralyzed when he hit the boards during a game with the Chicago Cougars junior team on Feb. 21, 2016. He has now returned home. Photo courtesy of Sue Olson.

ISANTI, Minn.-Matt Olson, the former hockey captain for Totino-Grace High School who was paralyzed from the chest down in February while playing with the Chicago Cougars of the U.S. Premier Hockey League, returned to his home in Isanti on Wednesday.

Olson, 20, had been receiving therapy at the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Golden Valley before being discharged, according to a statement released by the family. He will continue outpatient therapy.

"Our family would like to thank all the medical staff and therapists who have worked with Matt over the last six months and all the people that have supported our family," the family's statement read. "Matt is excited to be back home and is looking forward to this next chapter in his life."

Olson was injured after slamming into the boards during a game in Chicago.

"A guy was on a breakaway, and I chased him down," Olson told the Pioneer Press last month. "I was going full speed. He shot the puck, and the play was basically over. He went around the net on the left side, and I was going to do the same thing, and I was going full speed. I lost my balance and fell head first into the boards."

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Olson said he has talked to Jack Jablonski since suffering his injury. Jablonski was a Benilde-St. Margaret's sophomore hockey player when he suffered a severed spinal cord at the neck and two fractured vertebrae after he was checked from behind and hit the boards in a junior varsity game Dec. 30, 2011.

"I see him here (at Courage Kenny)," Olson said last month. "He's outpatient. I've said hi to him a few times. You see how much progress and gains he has made, and it's exciting. It makes me think, 'If he can do it, I can do it, too.' "

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