With all the attention surrounding the injury to Yale’s Sean Backman last weekend, it was probably forgotten that Brown senior tri-captain Jordan Pietrus had been out of their lineup since the beginning of February. In an odd coincidence, both players wore No. 16 for their respective teams.
The Providence Journal has reported that Pietrus, who was expected to be out for the season with a torn abdominal muscle, will return to the lineup in Friday’s ECAC Championship semifinal against Cornell.
Pietrus, like nearly all of his upper-class teammates under first-year coach Brendan Whittet, was having a career year until he went down. He had 17 points through 21 games before the injury after tallying only 23 total through his first three seasons with Brown. He was also third on the team in points per game when he went down.
“It has affected [our team] a lot,” Whittet just a week ago. “Jordan is a leader in every sense and he’s a good hockey player also. Without Jordan in the lineup, our depth is not overly strong up front, meaning we have to go to the well a lot with our top two lines. Those six guys, we play them a lot. It’s hard, you run out of energy at times when you’re doing that and you put a lot of pressure on those specific guys in order to come through. It really limits some of the stuff we can do on the offensive side.”
“Jordan is a huge part of our team and he still is,” added fellow captain Devin Timberlake, who also knows a thing or two about being injured — he missed all but 10 games last year. “Before he went down, he was probably our most consistent and our best player to that point. To lose him wasn’t easy, but he’s such a positive influence around the guys. We really want to do it for him, too. The longer we play, the better chance he has for coming back. He’s such an inspiration to everyone of us with how hard he works that we just want to give him a chance.”
A role model both on and off the ice, Pietrus is one of 18 finalists for this year’s Hockey Humanitarian Award.
“It’s a team sport,” Pietrus said before the series at Yale. “Especially with our team, it’s about all 21 guys on the ice and all 29 guys on our team. We have to compensate for each other in different ways and when guys get injured, that’s an opportunity for other guys to step up and show their worth. We’ve had some guys step up and play great; David Brownschidle, Jesse Fratkin, and Bobby Farnham have all been able to step up and do well in bigger roles. I’m still a member of the team so I love seeing the guys do well. It is a little bit bittersweet. Obviously, I wish I was out there and able to contribute, but I kind of contribute any way I can and it’s great to come back in a room with smiling faces after a big win. There’s no better thing in the world than winning.”