Sigalet speaks about multiple sclerosis

Kevin Shields and Kevin Shields

In an afternoon press conference yesterday, Bowling Green goaltender Jordan Sigalet announced that he has been suffering from multiple sclerosis (an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system) for the past nine months since being diagnosed in early March.

“Through making this public I hope to help others who may suffer from the same disease and possibly learn more about the disease myself,” Sigalet said in his opening statement. “The support I’ve received so far has been tremendous from my family, teammates, coaches, doctors and also my brother (Jonathan).”

Sigalet, an All-Central Collegiate Hockey Association first team pick from a year ago and preseason Hobey Baker award nominee for college hockey’s player of the year, has played in all but two of the Falcons’ games this season.

Since being diagnosed, Sigalet has only missed a total of three games, due to complications from the disease, including last weekend’s game against Michigan at home and the Saturday game against Michigan State the week before.

These complications first showed up last season after a weekend series with Northern Michigan in February.

“After the weekend against Northern Michigan, I woke up in the morning and my foot was kind of numb,” Sigalet said. “Right away I thought that was kind of strange and by later on in the day it had spread to other parts of my body, my legs and arms. Then the next day I was numb from the neck down, so I went and saw Doc Wojo (Dr. Thomas Wojciechowski, the team physician) and Wojo put me through a bunch of tests and scans and that’s when he broke the news to me that it was probably MS.”

“He (Dr. Wojo) contacted my family and he contacted the coaches too,” he added. “We kept it amongst the team since then and just family until I felt right to come out with it now. It definitely feels good getting it off my chest and talking about it. I didn’t want to hide behind the fact that I had the flu anymore. Every time I’ve had something go wrong I’ve hidden behind that fact and it’s kind of been a burden on my shoulders.”

So far this season, Sigalet has started 14 games and has a goal against average of 2.92 with a .916 save percentage. He’s recorded one shutout against Union (1-0) and had big games including Friday night’s win at MSU, where he recorded 46 saves on 47 shots.

“It’s games like that which impacts his condition,” Dr. Wojciechowski said about Jordan playing Friday’s game, but not being able to go Saturday. “We’ve given him more time off during the week and he’s had lighter workouts to help reduce the amount of stress and fatigue on what’s going on. But he’s busy all the time. I mean if you look at the stats, he missed the game after experiencing the symptoms, but then after spending five days in the hospital getting treatment he went out and played great at Ohio State in the playoffs. This new episode started two days before the Wayne State game and what’d he do that first game (7-3 win)? He came out and made 38 saves. Then three out of the next four games he’s the first star of the game.”

Coach Paluch was shocked to hear about the news when he first got it in March, but has learned a lot from Jordan’s character and the abilities he has shown since.

“It was an obvious shock to hear about someone who performs at such a high level to get that kind of news,” Paluch said about the past nine. “To see and watch Jordan and how he handled it, taking the news right in stride, he has probably been as courageous as any young man to go through it.

“For our whole staff and whole team to watch how Jordan has handled this has been remarkable. To see physically and what he has done mentally since that day in March to now has been anything but remarkable.”

“My first initial reaction to hearing about Jordan, was I thought it couldn’t be MS, it had to be something else like a neck injury or vertebrae pushing on his spinal cord,” Jonathan Sigalet said about learning of his brother’s illness. “To me I thought he was too young, too fit and too healthy to have something like MS. He’s the centerpiece to our team and our guys feed off of him. Watching him work every day in practice and in the weight room, it’s an inspiration to all of us and encourages us to become better players and better people.”

“Courage” is the word most of his teammates used to describe him, including his roommate and senior tri-captain Alex Rogosheske. Rogosheske has witnessed how this disease has affected Jordan Sigalet off the ice in his everyday activities.

“One day he looks fine and the next day he’s at the hospital and he’s white as a ghost,” Rogosheske said about Jordan. “He comes home with the IV-ports in his arm for three days at a time, he has to get shots now all the time and its really made me step back and value what I’ve had to this point.”

On the ice, Sigalet has continued to play remarkably, making big saves to keep his team in games. “Some of the stops he makes are amazing; you wonder how anyone can make them,” senior tri-captain Ryan Minnabarriet said. “Just to think of what he’s going through at that point and time is just remarkable with how he can stay with what he was given with his talents and everything.”

Sigalet will continue to play this season when he can and is expected to see action in many of the remaining games for the Falcons as he continues to go after another successful season.

“I’m day to day right now, but I’m 99 percent sure that I’ll be back after Christmas playing,” he said about the future. “I’ll just take it day by day for now, but I plan on playing hockey till I’m 40 years old, no matter where it is.”

He plans to get involved with different MS activities, such as a fundraiser and MS walk in Ohio that he wants to get his team involved with.

He and his teammates will return to the ice Dec. 29 at the Dartmouth Tournament before returning home Jan. 7 to start a two-game series with Alaska-Fairbanks.