LAKE DELTON, Wisc. (KTTC) -- The Wisconsin Dells Ducks played the Rochester Ice Hawks in the second of a three-game series Saturday night at Poppy Waterman Ice Rink in Lake Delton. However the teams were both facing another, silent opponent - carbon monoxide.
A carbon monoxide leak at the arena sickened 81 people, including 23 members of the Rochester Ice Hawks junior hockey team.
"I was shocked to learn there were no CO detectors in the building,” said Kevin Moe, who houses several players on the team.
Players reported having headaches, dizziness and nausea after the game between the Dells Ducks and the Ice Hawks Friday night, and by the end of the game Saturday, the whole team was sick.
Assistant coach Chris Dubois, who was also hospitalized, told KTTC via phone that he knew some players were feeling sick, and initially thought it might have been flu related.
"We definitely noticed a difference in our team from Friday to Saturday night even some confusion and stuff like that, so it's not what you'd expect so it's tough to put two and two together," said Dubois.
"As the plays went on - it's like, we're playing a good team, we played good the night before, we're rested. It just did not look right,” Moe said.
Players were missing shots left and right.
"I took a shot, I was only out there for 10 seconds and I kind of blacked out, was really dizzy, and had to actually grab onto an opponent because I couldn't even stand up,” said team captain Vinnie Susi.
No one knew it, but dozens of players were heaving in huge breaths of toxic air. The leak is believe to have started in a resurfacing machine.
"You're out there for 30 seconds, and it's not like normal 30 seconds. You're out there breathing harder than normal,” Susi said.
Susi felt so sick, he even got checked by EMS between periods. Back at the hotel after the game, the rest of the team started to feel the sickness brought on by the silent killer.
"As we got down to the lobby the EMS started showing up and it kept getting worse and worse and worse,” said Susi.
The coaching staff, fans, parents – 81 people in total – were treated at four local hospitals for heavy CO exposure.
"Kids started throwing up, nauseous, your heads pounding, your ears are popping, you're sore, you're tired,” Susi said.
In all, only five players were not hospitalized for the exposure. One Ducks player had to be airlifted to a hospital in Milwaukee for intense oxygen therapy.
It's not really the kind of injury you'd expect from a hockey game.
"You think of blocking a shot or taking a hit hard. Not carbon monoxide poisoning,” said Susi.