Warriors on medication after meningitis scare

Matthew Gourlie
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Tim Bozon's illness has affected the hockey world.

Moose Jaw Warriors

It's hit very close to home for the Moose Jaw Warriors.

Wednesday the Kootenay Ice announced that Bozon, a 19-year-old centre, is in critical condition in a Saskatoon hospital after contracting meningitis.

Bozon was hospitalized in Saskatoon on March 1, three days after he scored two goals and an assist with the Ice in their 5-1 win over the Warriors on Feb. 26. He scored again against Saskatoon, but was admitted to Royal University Hospital the next day.

Sask. Health contacted the Warriors Monday night and recommended that the team take Rifampin, a preventative medication that is used if people have been in contact with the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria that can cause meningitis.

The Warriors were supposed to load the bus to go to Prince Albert at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and at 1:30 p.m. the players were still in their dressing room uncertain what was happening.

"We were still on the phone with (WHL commissioner) Ron Robison and Sask. Health about the situation," said Warriors general manager Alan Millar. "When I went in to address the team and brought them up to speed on the situation I could see it in their faces. I think it rattled our guys. It was a tough situation, but we got through it."

One of the side effects of the medication prevents subjects from wearing contact lenses. The Warriors feared they were going to have six players out of the lineup Tuesday and be down to 14 player. However, a different medication was approved for four players who were 18 or older. Still that left defenceman Dallas Valentine and goalie Zach Sawchenko unable to play. They missed Tuesday and Wednesday's games.

"With the one medication the side effect is that you can't wear contact lenses," said Millar. "We were able to get the medication changed for four players who were 18 or older, but it was advised that Sawchenko and Valentine couldn't wear their contact lenses, so they couldn't play for the two games during the 48 hours that the players are on the medication.

"The medication that they're on secretes a red iodine-type stain. So if they're playing and sweating, their contacts are going to immediately be stained.

"It was a game day for us and we were talking to Sask. Health about side effects. With any medication you assume that there is going to be side effects, but the contact lens thing came out of the blue."

None of the Warriors players have shown any symptoms that suggest they contracted meningitis, but the Warriors weren't going to take any chances.

"Sask. Health was excellent. It's better to be safe than sorry and get the preventative medication and those measures in place for our players," said Millar who said it was a long day of getting information out to player's parents and billets to keep them up to date on the situation.

Bozon's parents Philippe and Helene have been with him at the hospital in Saskatoon since arriving on Sunday from their home in Cureglia, Switzerland.

"Our thoughts are with Tim Bozon and his family and the Kootenay Ice family at this time," said Millar.

Philippe Bozon was the first French player to play in the NHL, playing 144 games with the St. Louis Blues. He is also a four-time Olympian.

Organizations: Saskatoon hospital, University Hospital, Prince Albert NHL St. Louis Blues

Geographic location: Sask., Saskatoon, Cureglia Switzerland

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