AHL team bus crashes, seriously injuring 5

A bus crash involving the AHL's Albany River Rats has left five people, including two Canadians, with serious injuries, Massachusetts State Police said Thursday.

A bus crash involving the AHL's Albany River Rats has left four players - including two Canadians - and one staff member in hospital with serious injuries, said the team's vice-president of marketing, Jonathan Scherzer, on Thursday.

Quebec players Nicholas Blanchard, 21, of Granby, and Jonathan Paiement, 23, of Montreal, are in hospital.

Also injured are Joe Jensen of Plymouth, Minn., Casey Borer, 23, of Minneapolis, Minn., and the team's colour commentator, John Hennessy.

The injuries, according to a release issued by the team's NHL affiliate, the Carolina Hurricanes, are considered serious but "non life threatening."

River Rats general manager and head coach Jeff Daniels said everyone was able to get out of the bus on their own, but many were cut and bloodied and some had broken bones and concussions. Some players could miss significant time, but Daniels said the injuries weren't career-threatening.

Daniels was born in Oshawa, Ont., and the team's assistant coach, Geordie Kinnear, is from Simcoe, Ont.

Albany's game Friday night against Bridgeport has been cancelled.

The accident took place near Becket, Mass., about 80 kilometres from Albany, N.Y., at about 3:20 a.m. ET Thursday and resulted in the bus rolling on its side before coming to rest across the left travel lane and median.

Massachusetts State Police Sgt. David Mahan said weather may have been a factor in the accident, which followed a 3-2 River Rats shootout loss to the hometown Lowell Devils.

17 Canadians on the team

The rest of the team was discharged from hospital and returned to Albany by bus just after 11 a.m. Thursday, Scherzer said. The roster includes 17 Canadians from all parts of the country.

"You know, they're shocked," he said. "Just trying to get their heads around it. Our players are not doing any media today, our coach did talk to the media, only locally.

"It's just been a lot of people checking in with care and concern, and we appreciate that," he added. 

Daniels said most of the 28 players and staff were trying to sleep when the bus driver lost control. Daniels said he woke to a rumbling sound and realized the bus was sliding.

"Then guys were flying over the seats and we were on our side," he said.

Twenty-nine people were taken to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, some for precautionary reasons.

The crash remains under investigation.