Saturday, February 20, 2016

Raging Baby Bull

The Mercurial Jake Walman

* HIGH: Providence Defenseman Jake Walman enters soph campaign as player to watch for Team USA after impressive August World Junior camp;

* HIGHER: Walman blows away NCAA competition with barrage of goals in November, is named national player of the week as he pots hat trick, 4-goal weekend from defense position, continues to score goals at historic rate all fall, is lock to make Team USA for prestigious World Junior tourney starting on Christmas;

* LOW: 2 weeks before final USA WJC Camp,International Federation declares dual-citizen Walman ineligible for Team USA due to
lack of time representing his country.

* HIGH: Hockey Canada in unprecedented move, invites an American college player with ties to USA Hockey to THEIR Camp, eager to get the hot-shooting Walman onto their blue line to bolster their gold medal chances. Having been raised in Toronto watching Team Canada compete at the World Juniors religiously every Christmas, Walman is ecstatic to put on the Maple Leaf and represent his OTHER Country;

* LOW In a seemingly innocuous play in his last Hockey East weekend before departing for Canada's training camp, Walman separates his shoulder. He never gets on the plane, is out for a month. A very dark winter solstice for the ailing Walman;

HIGH February 13 Walman dominates UConn, back on the blue line for reigning NCAA Champs. He exudes supreme skill and energy over the entire ice: moving the puck briskly out of danger, pounding shots mercilessly at the Huskies goal, and throws the signature body check of the night with his previously damaged shoulder. He has passed all the tests, he is playing at 100%, his coach and the pro scouts in the stands sing his praises.

HIGH Feb 19 6:40pm ET: Walman enjoys a spirited warmup prior to the Friars showdown with first place Notre Dame. He moves non-stop, shooting, passing, virtually dancing the entire 15 minute session. He is playing with unbridled joy.

* LOW Feb 19 7:10pm ET: A mere twenty seconds into the game, Walman collides with a Notre Dame forward at center ice. It appears hardly noteworthy until you see Walman recoil in pain, and then shock. He crawls over the boards and is immediately taken down the hall to the medical room. Coach Leaman puts his palm to his forehead: he has just lost his most valuable player for the foreseeable future, Walman has blown out his shoulder again.

A tale of two Jakes
This nephew and namesake of Jake Lamotta, college hockey's Raging Bull, has been sent to the canvas AGAIN, this time in a knockout :20 into the first round. Will he get up again?