For most of the players who endured the trials of a lost season a year ago, the belief is that the upcoming season will be a complete turnaround.
Fifth-year senior defenseman Andrew Trainor doesn’t feel any differently.
“I think we have a pretty good team this year,” Trainor said. “I think we have a good shot to go as far or even further than the team that went to the [American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II National Tournament] two years ago.”
While much of his sights are set on a deep playoff run, one of Trainor’s bigger goals is to stay off the injury list.
While his teammates struggled to find a rhythm in the first half of last year’s season, Trainor was forced to sit and watch after going down with a broken clavicle and separated shoulder in the season’s second contest at Gulf Coast University in Florida on Sept. 23, 2011.
“After that, the chiropractor told me it was just a separated shoulder and that I could play and I played the next day,” Trainor said. “But I went to the doctor a day after that and found out that I had broken my collarbone and had to sit out for a while.”
“That was a painful lesson in physics,” coach Jerry Roberts said. “[Trainor] went up one on one against a guy his size and it was like a car accident when they hit.”
While Trainor dealt with months of rehabilitation, the losses mounted quickly for the Owls as they played on without their defensive leader. Temple lost 11 consecutive contests and did not win a game until Nov. 11, 2011.
Though the Owls picked up their play with four victories in five tries after that, it was clear that Temple was missing the physical presence and leadership qualities that Trainor possesses.
“It was a huge loss,” Roberts said. “At least seven or eight of those losses were against top-end talent teams, and when you don’t have one of your best skaters to go up against those top teams it makes it hard.”
“When he’s in there, he’s a guy who can take on any top line,” Roberts added. “We know when the other team’s top line is on the ice, [Trainor’s] on the ice. When he was hurt, we had to keep rotating and adjusting to find that player or players who could fill that role and it was very challenging.”
Though Trainor came back in game action on Jan. 7, 2012 in a game against Rowan University and finished out the season from there, his bum shoulder proved to be a lingering problem, one that could hamper him throughout the upcoming season.
“I’m still rehabbing it,” Trainor said. “I was supposed to get surgery in the offseason but I didn’t. I still have some soreness but I’ve been working hard all summer. I’ve been going to the gym a lot trying to put on some weight and muscle there.”
Trainor’s health will be one of the more significant factors toward the outcome of a season with high expectations, due in part to skill and otherwise in valuable experience.
“No one loves hockey more than [Trainor],” senior forward Pat Schramm said. “He breathes and sleeps hockey all the time. It’s infectious. You see how he prepares and how he does, and it makes the younger guys do the same.
“[Trainor] plays the game the way that we as a team need to play it,” senior defenseman Matt Benedetto said. “He shows up on time and he does everything right. When he’s not playing it hurts because he’s a good role model. He’s been there a long time, and whatever he does everyone else will follow.”
From the perspective of Trainor, the position of having to worry about health and conditioning to last a full season is unfamiliar territory, but something he will have to accept as the season unfolds.
“I never thought I’d have to focus on staying healthy like I have been, but I want to get out there and play and help my team go as far as we can,” Trainor said. “This is the last year for a lot of our core guys. Half the team is leaving after this year.”
“We’ve had each other for a long time and this is the last shot for me and some of the other guys to have a special season,” Trainor added. “This is my last year and I don’t want to be watching it from the stands.”
Andrew Parent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @daparent93.