A trio of injuries has kept Gregg Sutch on the sidelines for much of this season. (Photo courtesy of the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors)
This season has gotten off to a rough start with absolutely no luck, unfortunately.
In the last shift of our last pre-season game against the Peterborough Petes, I had an awkward fall and sustained a high ankle sprain, tearing three ligaments. I learned I was going to miss the first eight weeks of my season with my new team, the Mississauga-St. Mike’s Majors.
This was upsetting, but I remained positive because I understood there would still be a good chunk of the season left, so the goal was to do extensive rehab and treatments everyday.
Rehab included balancing on unstable surface boards, a series of lunges to strengthen my ankle and hitting the bike everyday.
Once I was able to start skating again, I was dealt another blow; a staph infection in the same ankle I had just injured.
After I was diagnosed with the staph infection, which is very painful and caused the ankle to swell up to the size of a couple tennis balls, I went on strong medication to rid the infection.
This process delayed me an extra week in returning to the lineup.
After the brutal weeks of rehab, watching games, doing stats and bag skates on the ice, I was finally back playing with the boys.
The first game was a thrill and I remember how jacked up I was to play my first game of the season against the Petes in Peterborough – what a coincidence to come back against the team I was injured against.
I still clearly remember on my first shift taking a pass up the middle and getting rocked pretty hard – a nice little reminder of what to expect.
Nine games later, we were on a road trip, visiting Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie.
Halfway into the second period, I received a pass up the middle of the ice and my good buddy, the Soo’s Brock Beukeboom, stepped into me with a clean hit. I was down low to the ice and ‘Beuk’ came down on the top of my shoulder, which caused it to slip out of joint.
The first thing that came to my mind was, “Is this really happening to me again? Am I out again for months?”
Just as everything seemed to be going well and the season was rolling, I’d sustained a separated shoulder, which will now keep me out for another month. Bad things happen in threes, so hopefully this is the end of that!
Through my rough first three months dealing with injuries, I've learned to deal with adversity.
"Life isn't fair, make your own luck," is what a good friend of mine told me – and he's right. The moment you start feeling sorry for yourself, you're only going to bury yourself in the misery and you won't make any progress.
It’s all about battling through adversity and once you can battle through something like this, it makes you a better player, but also a better person off the ice.
It isn't easy being sidelined during the season because you watch games and you start to get restless to the point where it can be frustrating. Thankfully, the Majors are doing well, which makes it easier, as opposed to if the team was struggling.
During my time on the sidelines, I still joined the team to watch video and I've watched the team play every game. When watching the games, I keep my eye on certain situations and ask myself, "What would I do in this situation?" I'm trying my best to keep my mind on the game as much as possible so I'm as sharp as I can be when I return to the ice.
The Majors are performing so well right now for a variety of reasons. One of the most important keys to our game is playing at both ends of the ice.
In the defensive zone, coach Dave Cameron stresses blocking shots more than any coach I’ve ever had and now I see why.
It's the little things that make a huge difference in our game – winning faceoffs, finishing checks, driving the net, sticking up for teammates, blocking shots, execution and all-around smart play. When you do the little things, it makes your team a very challenging one to play against.
One of my good buddies told me that playing the Majors is like "playing against a team of robots. Everywhere I go, someone is there." I think that says a lot about our team and our style.
Another huge reason we are doing so well is our off-ice chemistry. For example, this month we took part in the "Movember" fundraiser (growing moustaches for men’s health awareness) and it was optional, but when one guy put his name down on the board, two more guys put their name down and so forth; it had a snowball effect.
When you have a talented team on the same page and doing everything for each other on and off the ice, you can do some serious damage and that's what we're doing right now.
Right winger Gregg Sutch enters his second year in the Ontario League having been traded over the summer to Mississauga from Sarnia. The 17-year-old native of Newmarket, Ont., is highly touted for the 2010 NHL draft. He will blog throughout the season for THN.com. Read Sutch's other blogs HERE.