University of Maine men’s hockey player Kyle Solomon has decided to hang up his skates due to a concussion that was the latest in a series of six concussions he sustained throughout his Junior hockey and college careers.
The sophomore wing, who was a hard-nosed player and a valuable penalty-killer, suffered his last concussion during practice in the week leading up to the Hockey East quarterfinal series against UMass Lowell.
“It’s tough when you spend your entire life working toward one goal, playing Division I hockey, and then you finally get there [only to have it end],” said Solomon. “It’s really hard.”
Solomon said he was told by Dr. Robert Cantu, one of the nation’s top concussion specialists, that “my brain has taken enough of a pounding.”
He said it was “pretty clear” this is the only decision to make “especially with the type of game I play. I play physical. You can never predict what the next concussion would do.”
He said the concussion he sustained at Maine was a mild one “but it still gave me bad symptoms. That was alarming. I still have the symptoms.”
“He certainly made the right decision to step back from hockey. If he suffered another concussion, it could result in permanent damage,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead.
Solomon plans to return to Maine and finish his public administration degree.
“The University of Maine is a real good fit for me even without hockey,” said the 22-year-old Solomon, a recruited walk-on who wasn’t on a scholarship. “I’ve got a lot of good friends on the team and a lot of good friends who aren’t on the team.”
Solomon had a goal and three assists in 17 games during an injury-marred season.
Prior to sustaining the concussion, Solomon was sidelined after he incurred a groin injury blocking a shot against UMass Lowell. He also suffered a broken blood vessel in a vocal cord when his facemask was jammed into his throat.
Solomon also had a virus.
“I had a rough go this year and the concussion was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said.
He had two assists in 25 games as a freshman.
Whitehead said Solomon will be missed.
“We’re going to miss his physical presence and courage on the penalty kill,” said Whitehead. “He’s a tough kid who would take a hit to make a play. And he was always willing to block a shot.”
Whitehead also called him a “great kid” and has invited him to remain with the program in another capacity.
“I’d love to have him stay involved in the program,” said Whitehead.
“I appreciate coach leaving the door open for me. I’ll be around. I’ll stop by the rink and hang out,” said Solomon who would like to get involved in coaching some day.