Patrick Wey wasn't scared. The Boston College defenseman and Washington Capitals' prospect was just working along the boards against Northeastern when an opponent's skate came down on his right foot.
Wey thought nothing of it at first.
"I didn't even know it happened," he said. "I was just gliding off, and I sat down on the bench and my foot was kind of aching a little bit. I went to stand up and I fell over. I looked down and my skate was all bloody."
Wey needed stitches at first, and then he required surgery to repair a torn tendon in his toe, an injury that knocked him out over two months. Now, he's healthy, feeling good about his game and Thursday will play in the NCAA Frozen Four in Tampa, Fla.
"As the past few weeks have gone by, I've been really happy with how I've been playing defensively, which is where it's most important for me to be good," he said. "I'm definitely satisfied with how I'm playing and how our team's been playing as a whole."
Wey's last trip to Florida came when he went Disney World as a kid, but this one will be more rewarding because of the difficult season he has gone through.
Now a junior, Wey is set to enjoy his first playing experience in the Frozen Four after missing it his freshman year with mononucleosis. That season also included a broken wrist and a concussion, so the Caps' 2009 fourth-round pick was used to adversity.
"It was a struggle, at first, just having another injury, especially such a freaky one that was a little bit out of my hands," Wey said in a phone interview last week. "It was definitely another setback. But I think I still developed, especially here in the last couple months since I've been back. I think it's just giving me more confidence that I can still come back after having that amount of time off and play well."
Wey has two goals, four assists and a plus-13 rating for the Eagles, who face the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Thursday night in the Frozen Four semifinals. He has had a nice season, but that he has even played in 30 of Boston College's 42 teams is a remarkable accomplishment — especially considering the night of Oct. 22, when the skate blade to Wey's right foot came perilously close to hitting an artery.
"I don't think I really comprehended how close it was. It was really close to an artery in my foot and some other things that would have been a bigger problem," said Wey, who described the cut as perhaps only an inch or two wide. "As my trainers put it, it just would've been a lot more blood. I don't think it would've been anything that would've been a seriously threatening injury."
Still an injury that knocked him out long enough that Christmas break was a welcome bit of extra recovery time. But his adjustment back to game action took time.
"When I came back from the injury at first, I was a little bit disappointed with where I was," Wey said. "It took me a couple of games to get adjusted to the speed where I wasn't just sort of sitting back and playing average defense where I could really step up and dictate."
Now, Wey and Boston College are dictating and hope to win a second national title in three years.
Meanwhile, the 21-year-old stays in touch with Caps director of player development Steve Richmond about his development, with the ultimate NHL goal always in mind.
"It's funny, a couple of the times I've seen him I've been in the stands on crutches. He just emailed me recently and said, 'Congratulations on making it to the Frozen Four and we'll talk after everything goes down there,'" Wey said. "I hope they're happy with my development."
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