high-sticked, flipped and taken out practically anywhere in the open ice. Corner work is more confined — and potentially more unforgiving. The act of retrieving the puck, spotting a moving teammate, then trying to thread a pass onto the tape of his stick may sound easy enough — if you’ve played the game. But corner play is often about grinding while trying to pry a 5½ to 6-ounce piece of vulcanized rubber that measures 1 inch thick, 3 inches in diameter out of the corner, usually with your head down and back turned.
It’s about trying to leverage an opponent out of the way while trying to gain traction on a pair of oversized razor blades. It’s about maintaining focus while seemingly all around you are taking whacks at your legs, arms, back, and head, throwing elbows and crosschecks, or at times even flying from across ice with the idea of slamming you into a wedge of glass — that has little give — or the boards — which have absolutely none unless hit by a runaway Zamboni — in an effort to possess the same thing you’re after, whether in the offensive or defensive end.
“He’s a guy that will throw himself into a play when maybe it looks like he can’t make it, and he finds a way to disrupt things,” Sturges said.
Corners are dangerous. And it’s where the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Olds has done some of his best work.
“I think that’s the funnest part of the game,” Olds said. “I think going out there and being able to just prove you’re the bigger, better man that’s able to push harder to get that puck, and get it to your teammates for the overall goal, it just says a lot about you; that you’ll never give up on anything.”
The windows to give up have been there. There were injuries. He partially tore an ACL at age 12. That same year Olds took a hit that left him paralyzed for a stretch from the waist down, according to Dan Olds, a firefighter and EMT of 21 years. He was loaded into an ambulance and taken to a hospital, where he remained for about seven hours until the feeling returned in his legs.
His senior year at Easton he got checked head-first into the boards during a travel game, injuring his neck, but was back in time to play in the state final for the Warriors.
Olds became well-schooled in the healing process. He injured his shoulder toward the end of his freshman season at West Virginia, but didn’t learn the extent of the damage — a torn labrum, separated AC Joint, damaged rotator cuff — until a month before he was to begin his sophomore year. He decided to put off surgery until after season, but was inexplicably benched right before the postseason was set to start.
“He benched me out of nowhere and I didn’t really know what it was for,” Olds said of his then-head coach. “He wouldn’t really explain it to me while on D2. So when I questioned him about it he wouldn’t even give me a response.”
That silent treatment could have been enough reason for Olds to quit, but he stayed, the frustration spurring him