The West Middle School community lost one of its newer members last month when Henry Lent, an eighth-grader-to-be, died unexpectedly while taking part in a youth ice hockey clinic in southern Maryland.
The military-based Lent family has called Finksburg its home for the past two years, and Mark Lent said his only child took to the area in a hurry. Henry settled into Carroll County after a childhood of living in different states and countries while his dad served in the Army. And he kept his love for hockey going strong.
“I suspect there’s not too many kids that had more minutes on the ice than he did,” Mark Lent said. “He never missed a season from age 4 all the way up. He played basically year-round. Summer hockey, spring hockey. That was his passion, that’s what he loved.”
Henry died at 13 years old Aug. 18, doing what he loved, after suffering a brain injury while participating in the clinic. Charity Lent, Henry’s mother, said via Facebook message her son was struck with an errant puck in the neck area and suffered a traumatic brain injury.
The puck caused a brain stem injury and massive bleeding because it cut an artery, she said. CPR was administered, and Henry was taken to a Washington, D.C., hospital, where he died with his parents beside him.
The hockey community wasted no time in rallying around Henry’s family ― a GoFundMe fundraiser page was created by Michael Bazzone and Matt Reid, both club coaches in the Montgomery Youth Hockey Association. Their goal is to raise $100,000, and as of Tuesday evening the total neared $77,000 ― from over 1,100 donors.
“We’re looking at some creative ways that we can take that and potentially put it into research, for some protective equipment that potentially may help this from happening to another child,” Mark Lent said.
Money set aside for a scholarship or endowments, perhaps to provide hockey equipment for underprivileged kids, is another idea, Lent said, “or for training for some kids that were kind of similar to where Henry was at. Just needing a little extra one-on-one individualized training to advance to the next level.”
That’s what Henry was trying to do: get better at playing his favorite sport. He had recently taken up basketball as well, according to his online obituary, and was developing a slick fade-away jump shot. When he wasn’t playing sports, Henry enjoyed playing video games with his friends and spending time with his dog Moose.
“We were very proud of the hockey player that he became, but really also the young man he was becoming,” Lent said. “Most people know him as a hockey player, but Mom and Dad know ... there’s a lot more to him. He was taken far too young.”
The GoFundMe page created by Henry’s coaches calls for his hockey family to “rally and raise money so that Henry’s family can focus on what is most important during this difficult time.”
“Quite frankly, that’s really not what we’re about,” Lent said. “It’s more about remembering Henry, and I think people’s ability to donate was a way for them to do that.”
Lent said moving his family to Carroll County was a way to get Henry closer to a quality youth hockey area, in the Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., region. The Montgomery Youth Hockey Association’s website has an “In Memoriam” post about Henry, and the Southern Maryland Sabres Hockey Club out of Waldorf used its Facebook page to let people know about what happened.
The MYHA is planning a celebration of Henry’s life in October.
Meanwhile, Henry’s parents are trying to keep their son’s memory alive and well.
“I think Henry had a great sense of humor. He had a big smile. He was a lot of fun to be around,” Mark Lent said. “Three consistent things that people have told us and we saw in our own son.”
Added Charity Lent: “He loved his friends at West Middle and around the hockey community.”