Manitoba hockey player faces $30K dental bill after blindside hit to face
Clint Torfason, 21, hopes Manitoba Health will cover cost of teeth implants, bone graft
A forceful hit to the face that broke a junior hockey player's jaw bone and dislodged five teeth is now set to hit his family's finances.
Even though Clint Torfason had two insurance policies, he and his family are staring down a dental bill of $25,000-$30,000 for a bone graft and four implants.
"It came from my blind side," Torfason, a 21-year-old forward with the Arborg Ice Dawgs, said of the hit on April 1 during game three of the finals against the Peguis Juniors.
"Stick just game up whacked me right in the mouth and I went down instantly."
Torfason remembers skating toward his trainer, cupping his face and spitting out teeth along with chunks of bone.
"I was kind of numb at that point but my whole mouth was vibrating. I thought every last tooth was gone," he said.
Not every tooth, but the five across the upper right side of his jaw, including a front tooth, were knocked out. He also needed stitches outside his mouth.
Torfason said the total estimated cost to fix his teeth is between $35,000 and $46,000. His mother's Blue Cross insurance covers $11,000 while Hockey Canada pays for $5,000. He has to pay any difference.
"It's a lot of money," said Torfason, who hopes two community fundraisers — an online donation campaign and a social — will help save the family from having to cover the full cost.
Jerry Maryniuk, an assistant manager for the Ice Dawgs, said he was left gobsmacked the Torfasons are faced with such a high bill. He is one of the main organizers behind the benefit social.
"It's a lot for anybody. They had to take out a loan. It's just so wrong," he said.
After making some phone calls, Maryniuk discovered that unlike the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, the Keystone Junior Hockey League does not buy into extra dental coverage endorsed by Hockey Canada. The league votes this November whether to adopt the insurance plan.
"Most junior hockey teams across Canada have this extra insurance," he said. "For whatever reason that wasn't communicated well enough to the leagues in Manitoba."
He blames the national governing body for amateur hockey for not making extra dental coverage mandatory given how often players leave the rink with missing teeth.
Maryniuk also wants Manitoba Health to re-consider its earlier denial and pay for some of Torfason's surgery costs.
"Here's a kid that's lost five teeth, broken jaw, having to have bone grafts from his hip to his face to reconstruct basically — it sounds more than cosmetic," he said. "It's a functional thing. It's survival basically."
A spokesperson for Manitoba Health wrote in an email to CBC dental care is not an insured benefit in the province and coverage for dental or oral surgery is only offered for procedures that have to be performed in hospital.
"Everybody I talk to can't believe they would leave this family like this. It just doesn't make sense. Our system shouldn't be that way," said Maryniuk.
The social to raise money for Torfason takes place on Saturday at the Arborg Community Centre. The auction will include jerseys from NHL players James Reimer and Mark Scheifele.
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