Back with a flourish
Derian Plouffe and Tanner Lomsnes suffered careerthreatening injuries last season, but the pair persevered and returned
puck broke a rib and a broken rib sliced his liver.
Both could have walked away from hockey and most would have given an understanding nod. Plouffe was even encouraged by a few doctors to hang up his skates. But neither was ready to give up the sport. Not just yet.
A year later, Lomsnes and Plouffe are back on the ice for Niagara and key components to one of the most dramatic program turnarounds in college hockey this season.
Plouffe, a senior from Shawville, Quebec, leads
Niagara with 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) while Lomsnes, a junior from Red Deer, Alberta, leads the team with 12 goals, including four on the power play.
They have helped lead a resurgence for the Purple Eagles. After winning just 18 games combined over the past three seasons, Niagara is in first place in Atlantic Hockey with an 8-2-1 conference mark, a 9-5-1 overall record, and a spot in the national rankings at No. 20.
“I think that’s one of the things that separates hockey from a lot of sports is the mentality piece of how committed these guys are to returning and fighting through issues that might shut other people down,” said first-year Niagara coach Jason Lammers. “I think that’s indicative of our sport but more importantly of those two players.
“The beautiful thing for me is if I didn’t know of their injuries, I would have no idea they had been hurt. They have not missed a beat. They’re not one bit intimidated by any of it. They’ve played hard. They’re a huge part of why we’re having the success that we are.”
Before they could help with success on the ice, with turning the culture of Niagara hockey around, Plouffe and Lomsnes had to find ways to turn themselves around facing both physical and mental challenges.
“I was bedridden for a couple of months,” said Lomsnes, who had to stay behind in Colorado after the injury. Barry Patterson, the father of his teammate Kevin, stayed with him as his team went back to Western New York.
“I didn’t really know what happened,” Lomsnes said. “I thought it was my lung but after they did a couple MRIs in Air Force they said that I had sliced my liver. They didn’t want me to fly home so I spent a couple days in the hospital there. I had great doctors. Kevin Patterson’s dad, Barry Patterson, stayed with me the whole time there. I can’t thank him enough for helping me through that difficult situation.”
The recovery was grimmer for
The return of Derian Plouffe, left, and Tanner Lomsnes have helped Niagara’s quick turnaround to the top of Atlantic Hockey.