This Week in ECAC Hockey: Nov. 25, 2009

I know there is a lot of Thanksgiving-related material these days, but don’t be a spoil-sport if you’re Canadian: You already had your Thanksgiving. Cut us a little slack; things move slower down here.

Home Work

We are all blessed, at least in some small way, to be part of a league that values the “student” as much as the “-athlete”. It allows us to appreciate our players that much more, knowing — by and large — that they’re a better brand of competitor: one that puts forth an effort in multiple arenas, and I don’t just mean home and away.

We are reminded of this strength-of-character yet again around the holidays, as ECAC Hockey programs do their part to serve their respective communities.

The Union Dutchmen chipped in on Monday, serving an early Thanksgiving dinner at the Schenectady YMCA for the fifth consecutive year. While the rest of the student body is already home on break, the Dutch made time to set up, serve and sweep in the name of local pride … all before preparing for Lake Superior State on Friday.

Dartmouth made a splash, taking its good deeds to prime time. In an episode set to air at 9 p.m. Eastern this Sunday on ABC, the Big Green men’s and women’s programs take leading rolls in the Emmy Award-winning “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

Back in late September, the teams helped rebuild the home of the Marshall family of Lyme, N.H. Children Cameron, Beau and Olivia have all taken the ice at Thompson Arena at one time or another, participating in hockey camps and events, and the hockey teams at Dartmouth College decided it was time to help a few of their own.

From the Dartmouth press release:

“Six years ago, Jay and Elena Marshall bought the perfect home: a home they could live in forever that would easily expand as their family grew. But before they had a chance to build their first addition, an onslaught of problems from carbon monoxide leaks to mold and rotting wood brought the dreams for their home to a halt. Before they could begin tackling the growing list of problems, their 9-year-old son, Cameron, was diagnosed with leukemia. Despite the mounting medical bills and the fear of having to leave their home due to the dangers it presents to Cameron’s recovery, the Marshall family came together and rallied their community behind their son’s “Be Positive” campaign. The “Be Positive” campaign, named after Cameron’s blood type, has already brought in around $40,000 for the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth and leukemia awareness, including $3,500 Cameron raised on his own.”

The Marshalls have new fans in the Big Green locker rooms, and … well, I’m guessing that the Big Green have a few new fans of their own.

Back in Action

As a freshman at Brown, Devin Timberlake scored three goals and totaled 11 points in 32 games. With Jeremy Russell, he was one of only two rookies to see time in every contest that year. Thirty-one games and 17 points later, he became the only member of his class to have participated in all 63 games that the Bears had played in his two years at Brown.

Then last season, his appearances suddenly dropped to 10.

Over the summer, there was concern that those would be his final 10.

“One day after the Minnesota tournament last year, I was on the ice in practice, and it just went,” Timberlake said of his back, which had been bothering him consistently all year long. “I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t go to class. I couldn’t do anything.”

"Every day, when I wake up, I’m going to have back pain. I’m going to have to rehab. It’s never going to be like it was before … wear and tear will get to it over time. It’s definitely set me back, but I’m not the kind of person to let it keep me down."

— Brown’s Devin Timberlake

Originally borne of a summer weightlifting injury, Timberlake’s herniated disc hampered him enough in the first semester of his junior year as to keep him out of four of the Bears’ first 14 games. His back finally gave out for good during an early-morning skate in the first week of 2009, merely hours after skating to a 1-1 tie against Western Michigan.

“This time I knew there was no rehabbing,” said the 24-year-old senior out of Port Alberni, B.C. “I had to do something drastic.”

With many thanks to Brown’s sports medicine staff, Timberlake described being encouraged to get surgery by the supportive and knowledgeable cadre of athletic trainers and physical therapists who had worked with him throughout his first two and a half years at school.

“I hadn’t walked in five or six weeks,” and had to get around with crutches, he said. “Push came to shove, and I had to do something.”

Timberlake knew that his hockey career was in jeopardy no matter what he did.

“It crosses your mind — any time you go into surgery, it’s not a pleasant time — but the Brown medical staff was really reassuring,” he said. “They recommended a doctor, said he was really good, and he was.”

After only one night in the hospital, Timberlake was fit enough to walk out the next day under his own power.

“I didn’t exactly stroll out, but I walked,” he laughed.

Now, fewer than 11 months removed from an injury that cost him the ability to walk for nearly a month and a half, Timberlake is back on the ice and looking ahead to what he hopes are a few more years of productive, high-level hockey.

“The reason to come to Brown is to get this amazing degree, and I’ll always have that in my back pocket,” he said, “but if you’re given the opportunity to be a professional athlete, well, I have to take that,” he explained, adding that he doesn’t consider his current status to be any worse than that of any other life-long hockey player his age.

“Every day, when I wake up, I’m going to have back pain,” he stated. “I’m going to have to rehab. It’s never going to be like it was before … wear and tear will get to it over time.

“It’s definitely set me back, but I’m not the kind of person to let it keep me down.”

Readers’ Poll

Quick results from last week, according to Ye Masses: Don’t boo your own team, ever … and Cornell’s Colin Greening is a favorite among our amateur GMs.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, everyone … drive safe, and don’t confuse the sparkling cider with the sparkling rosé when filling the kids’ glasses.

As amusing as that would be.

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