In the second round of last season’s KIJHL Teck Cup championships, Carter Spring, who played for the Kimberley Dynamiters, had a season-ending injury against the Columbia Valley Rockies in Game 2. He sustained a fracture just above his ankle, which was also dislocated after a scoring opportunity on the penalty-kill when he was kind of pulled down by a D-man back checking . Dynamiters team doctor Shaun VanZyl was on the scene quickly and saved his leg.
Cory Cameron, of Potenza Rehabilitation & Performance and the KIJHL’s Director of Health and Safety, said “the initial response at the time of the injury was crucial in the recovery process and probably saved Carter from possibly losing his lower leg to complications of the injury.”
Cameron began working with Spring immediately following his surgery.
“To be able to see Carter’s unwavering spirit and work ethic through this injury recovery was inspiring to me, and I work with people recovering from traumatic injuries daily,” said Cameron. “It would have been easy for Carter to summarize that this injury was the end of his Junior hockey career, but he worked extremely hard, through significant pain and lack of function to be ready for training camp. He shocked me daily with his determination in the clinic and gym, all while working a labour intensive job through summer and still dedicating himself six-seven days per week to his rehab. I think Carter’s resiliency should be revered by many, including his peers and young athletes that will have to deal with diversity through their lives.”
After successful surgery, and through a long, patient journey, the Cranbrook product was able to return to playing. He returned to the Dynamiters roster, then was traded to the Chase Heat early into the season.
Spring talked about what that recovery process was like and being able to return to playing. The interview with Spring has been edited for clarity and length.
KIJHL: What was the road to recovery like for you?
CS: A lot of people don’t know how much work and time actually goes into something like this. The rehab that is involved in this type of injury, which is not like your obvious broken collar bone or broken finger, it’s actually miles from that. For the first nine weeks, I was in a cast probably up to my waist just to keep my leg still. After that, I got into a boot where I would try and start walking. After sitting and not moving my leg for nine weeks, it gets pretty immobile. It was probably another five weeks after you finally start to get some comfort to put some weight on that leg. After that, you get out of the boot and get into some mobility exercise which isn’t easy because you are stressed about hurting it again.
KIJHL: When were you able to get back on skates?
CS: It was the end of August and I did all the work to be able to skate again, but it’s more the mental side. What if I get put in that situation again racing for a puck, the puck is on the boards and I get tripped or something. It’s a really tough mental game. I’m slowly starting to get better with it.
KIJHL: What was it like to work with Cory Cameron of Potenza Rehabilitation & Performance and how he helped you be able to recover?
CS: Cory Cameron is like family for me. I have been working with him for probably 11 years now and he’s the best guy. After work he’s putting in hours for me, just a wonderful job he and his staff have done.
KIJHL: Did you ever think if you would be able to play again?
CS: It definitely crossed my mind. The outside noise was probably the main thing as people were going to my parents and saying, “Oh that sucks that Carter’s career is over.” Telling them, “Oh, how is Carter going to skate again?” After nine weeks, I honestly couldn’t wait to be able to walk again. It takes baby steps at a time. Being able to walk and then Cory Cameron helping me be able to run and then skate after that. It was definitely a slow process. I’m happy where I’m at.
KIJHL: How do you feel you have been playing this season?
CS: I’ve definitely gone through some adversity. I got traded at the beginning of the season to the Chase Heat and couldn’t be more happier here with Head Coach Brad Fox and the organization. It’s just been positive for me and I am so happy to be here.
KIJHL: What would you like to accomplish the rest of the season?
CS: I definitely want to try and get on the scoresheet a bit more. I’m just trying to help the team and win some games so we can get a playoff spot. That is our main goal right now. We are working really hard.
Spring added that he is so thankful to Cameron and Fox as not only have they helped him with hockey and being able to play. They have supported him away from the rink.
“They also helped me with my personal life and maturing even more as a 20-year-old than I probably thought I would have,” he said.
Now into this week’s KIJHL Notebook.
Eddie Mountain Division
|Eight of the 19 wins for the Columbia Valley Rockies have come against divisional opponents. Head Coach & GM Emery Olauson said he feels they have been “a bit inconsistent at times so far this season.”
“However, over our past 10-15 games we feel we are trending in the right direction. Every night is a test in our division and we are proud of where we sit, but we know that it will be fierce competition the whole way through the season to get the regular season banner,” said Olauson.
At home, the Rockies have won 10 of 13 games and Olauson says their home record has been pretty good.
“Obviously we credit our fans and the comforts of the Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena,” he said. “We take pride in playing hard at home and feel that with a few exceptions, we have given our fans great performances in almost every home game.”
|Nine of the Kimberley Dynamiters’ 19 wins have come against divisional opponents in 13 games.
Head Coach & GM Derek Stuart says the “unbelievable competition within our division forces us to play well or we’ll lose.”
“There isn’t a weak team and there aren’t any easy wins. Every single game in our division is a battle,” said Stuart.
At home, the Dynamiters are nearly unbeatable with 11 wins in 14 games at the Kimberley Civic Centre. One big factor for Stuart is their “incredibly loyal fan base.”
“I think it’s important to recognize that fans pay hard-earned money to watch the guys play so we owe it to them to perform as best we can at the Civic,” he said.
|Of the Rockets’ 17 wins, seven have come in their division in 14 games. The Rockets are difficult to play at the Golden Arena, winning 10 of 14 games.
|Four of the Fernie Ghostriders’ 12 wins have come against divisional opponents in 13 games. Head Coach-GM Ty Valin said their division is really tight.
“It’s a tough division to play in on a nightly basis,” he said. “Our team is starting to learn how to compete every night and understand it takes a 60-minute effort anytime we play in our division.”
At the Fernie Memorial Arena, the Ghostriders have seven wins in 14 games and at times Valin has liked how his team has played.
“We have learned some lessons at home,” he said, “like last Tuesday we learned a very important lesson about showing up to compete. At the same time, it’s nice to play those home games too. It’s just nice to be at home with our fan base and we’re very fortunate with the crowds that we get. It’s a fun place to play, but overall our team is learning to buy in and compete every night. That’s what it’s going to take to play in the second half of the season.”
The Ghostriders are averaging 479 fans a game.
|Four of the Creston Valley Thunder Cats’ 12 wins have come against divisional opponents in 12 games. The Thunder Cats have six wins at home at the Johnny Bucyk Arena in 12 games.
|Neil Murdoch Division
|Of their 17 wins, eight have come against divisional opponents for the Grand Forks Border Bruins in 13 games. And at the Jack Goddard Memorial Arena, the Border Bruins have won nine of 13.
|The Nelson Leafs have six of their 14 wins against divisional opponents and have a .500 record in their division.
“We have been up and down against divisional opponents. With a young group that is somewhat expected, although by December we would like to see a pattern develop of being able to continually work through the ups and downs games present,” said Leafs Head Coach Adam DiBella.
At the Nelson Community Complex, the Leafs have won nine of 13 games.
|Half of the Beaver Valley Nitehawks’ 14 wins have come within their division in 12 games. At the Fruitvale – Beaver Valley Arena, the Nitehawks have eight wins in 12 games.
|Four of the seven wins the Castlegar Rebels have are in their division in 13 games. Rebels interim Head Coach-GM Nick Headrick said he feels they have “played our division hard as of recently, but can’t piece together a strong enough third period to come away with the result we are looking for.”
“We show up and compete hard for 40 minutes, but when the game is on the line we can’t elevate enough to come away with the win,” he said. “The division from our perspective is the hardest it’s been for the Rebels in many years. With the jump Grand Forks has made in such a quick time and Nelson and Beaver Valley staying the course of being premier teams in the KIJHL, it’s hard to find an easy night on the schedule for the Rebels.”
At the Castlegar & District Recreation Centre, the Rebels have won four of 12 games
|Bill Ohlhausen Division
|Nine of the Princeton Posse’s 19 wins have come in their division, where they have played 12 games. Head Coach Mark Readman says it has been “hit or miss” facing divisional opponents. He noted they haven’t seen the Summerland Steam a lot, and have had good contests against North Okanagan. Against Osoyoos, they played well.
“We just need to make sure we are doing our part to try to find our best game as the season goes along,” said Readman.”As the divisional games heat up, our second half definitely has a pretty heavy divisional feel to it, but at the same time, we have been playing some good hockey and those four point swings mean a lot. You have to make sure you are ready to battle any given night.”
At home, the Posse have won 10 of 14 games at the Princeton & District Arena.
“It definitely is a home ice advantage,” he said. “Our sheet is a little bit smaller, we have some shallow corners, a bit of a shorter surface, and the team has really bought into making it our advantage. Our group has performed well and put on a good show for the home crowd that supports you.”
|The Osoyoos Coyotes have nine of their 15 wins against divisional opponents in 14 games. At the Sun Bowl Arena, they have won 10 of 15 games.
|The North Okanagan Knights have five of their 14 wins in 12 games against divisional opponents. At the Nor-Val Centre, the Knights are .500 with seven wins.
|The Summerland Steam have five of their 10 wins in 13 games against divisional opponents. Head Coach-GM Mark MacMillan said they have fared OK in their division.
“We’ve had an interesting year, we had a really good start and it’s been really up and down since the first eight games,” he said. “We’ve got a strong division, North Okanagan has really come on as of late. Princeton has been playing good hockey all season and like last year, Osoyoos is one of the most skilled teams in the league. They really play the right way. We’ve got a tough division and a ways to go as a team.”
The Steam have seven wins in 16 games at the Summerland Arena. Playing several home games at the beginning is a reason for their good start.
“We’ve got a young group and part of being young and becoming a junior hockey player is learning how to be able to get off the bus and play just as good on the road as you do at home. I think that is one thing our team is learning. When you are at home, being able to be fresh and ready to have a nap in your own bed before the game. It makes it easier to come to the rink and perform well.”
|All of the Kelowna Chiefs’ four wins have come in 14 games against divisional opponents.
“Those games are always more important so that’s good to see from our team, but we’ve also had some pretty forgettable games within our division so it’s likely more coincidence that our wins have been within the division,” said Chiefs Head Coach Travers Rebman.
At the Rutland Arena, the Chiefs have won three of 14 games and Rebman says they may be more inconsistent in front of their home fans.
“We have a group that is easily distracted and often looking for the easy way rather than the right way, so until we learn what it takes to compete consistently and how important game plans and details are, we will continue to struggle,” he said. “Ultimately it has to come from within the room where they get sick enough of losing that they are willing to commit to proper preparation and willing to be accountable to each other and themselves.”
|Doug Birks Division
|The Revelstoke Grizzlies have seven of their 17 wins in 11 divisional games. Head Coach-GM Ryan Parent says they have a good record against their division, but added it’s a situation where he doesn’t think there is any team in their division that can’t win on a night.
“We consider ourselves fortunate to play against good teams every night,” he said.
At the Revelstoke Form, the Grizzlies have won seven of eight games. Parent says they have played well at home.
“The Revelstoke Forum is a hard place for other teams to come play,” he said. “We take pride in that and we have competed well. We have had our ups and downs in the first half here, but it’s all part of the process.”
|The Sicamous Eagles have nine of their 15 wins in 15 divisional games. They have won 10 of their 14 games at the Sicamous & District Recreation Centre.
|The Kamloops Storm have seven of their 14 wins in 12 divisional games. Storm captain Jameson Rende says they feel they have underachieved as a whole, dropping games they would like back.
“We still have four huge games with Revelstoke coming up in the new year, and those four games are going to be key for us,” he said. “It is going to shape our division in hopefully a different way for us.”
At McArthur Park Arena, the Storm have a .500 record with seven wins. Rende says the Olympic ice surface is a big advantage for them.
“With our physicality and speed, and the way we cause teams to turn pucks over, I think we are causing a lot of trouble for teams on our ice,” he said.
|The Heat have three of their seven wins in 13 divisional matchups. They have five wins in 14 games at the Art Holding Memorial Arena and are winless in their last 10 games, however Spring has seen positives in their play recently. From the previous weekend, they played two strong periods in a 7-2 loss to Sicamous, in which the Eagles had a five-goal third period.
“We just have to build off those two periods. We had some missed plays that cost us a game,” he said. “I really like how this team is moving forward and building on with each other.”
Recently captain Trevor Kennedy and defenceman Mikkel Hrechka have stood out to Spring with their play.
“Our captain leads by example and gets us all going. He’s a great player and a great person. I’m just following him and Hrechka, who has been a horse for us. They have just been awesome for us.”
Spring added that newly acquired teammate Tyson Tokarz has brought offence as he has four points in five games.
“He has a great offensive mind and is already helping us on the power-play with this skill,” said Spring.
|The 100 Mile House Wranglers have five of their seven wins in 11 divisional games. Wranglers Head Coach-GM Dale Hladun says they are trying to use the whole season as practice.
“There is so much we have to rebuild after going dark that one year, and not having returning veterans to create the culture and how you play late in the game, and how you practice and so on, it has taken quite a while to re-establish how we need to be Wranglers,” he says. “What I’m trying to focus on is what are the successes we’ve had? Some games we have been good enough to win, but we didn’t win. You played right to the end. We need those blocks to be established because one it is, then you get a win. I just see it in our guys and it’s coming.”
At the South Cariboo Rec Centre, the Wranglers have five wins in 12 games. Hladun said they generally are good at home, but added he feels many teams are.
“You have to learn how to win, sometimes how to win, the opponent is the clock. Not the guys you are facing. We are trying to reframe their minds.”