The Mississauga St. Michael's Majors were finishing off a 3-1 win against the Niagara Ice Dogs in their home opener on Oct. 3, 2008, when 17-year-old forward William Wallen suddenly started experiencing blinding headaches. Wallen, who had arrived in Mississauga just weeks earlier after playing in his native Sweden, became disoriented and eventually vomited. Something was wrong.
"We're taught in second-year medical school that the worst headache of your life is a ruptured aneurysm," said Dr. Tim Rindlisbacher, the Majors' team physician who was at the game that night. "I wanted him to get to the hospital really fast."
What some thought might be a bad headache turned out to be a bulging blood vessel in Wallen's brain that had burst and was bleeding. There was a 50 percent chance he might die. But in an inspiring comeback that would make waves across the hockey world, Wallen was back on the ice just a few months later.