He called it “pretty nerve-wracking at first.”
University of Maine freshman left winger Adam Shemansky had been checked head-first into the boards by Massachusetts defenseman Martin Nolet last Friday night and was laying motionless on the ice.
“I was pretty dazed. But I made sure I could move my legs,” said Shemansky. “It sunk in when our trainer [Paul Culina] called for the board and stretcher. I panicked a little bit.”
After several minutes, Shemansky was strapped to the board and placed on the stretcher and taken to a local hospital.
“I was in the hospital for about three hours. Some of the X-rays were pretty complicated,” said Shemansky, who was accompanied by both of his parents (Dean and Donna). “But everything worked out.”
Shemansky had suffered a neck injury but, after a good night’s sleep, he was back in the lineup the following night in a 5-2 loss to New Hampshire.
“When he was laying on the ice immobilized, he asked me if he could stay in the game,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead.
“My main focus was getting back in the lineup as soon as possible,” said Shemansky, who will take the ice for his first Hockey East home game tonight at 7 at Alfond Arena when Maine entertains Vermont, which reached the Frozen Four last season but lost to eventual national champ Boston University.
“I was in a little discomfort [against New Hampshire] but it didn’t impact the way I play and I was happy about that,” said Shemansky.
Shemansky, the smallest Black Bear at 5-foot-7, 160 pounds, has been a pleasant surprise.
He has three goals and two assists in six games to rank second on the team in goals and tied for second in points.
According to Whitehead, Shemansky has “earned tremendous respect for his physical and mental toughness, his perseverance and determination and his athletic ability. Being a smaller player growing up, he has had to earn every bit of ice time he’s received.”
Maine junior center and captain Tanner House said the Bears knew Shemansky was a tough kid.
“He’s small but he battles hard and has a big heart. He’s been good for us and he’s pretty consistent which is good for a freshman,” said House, who admitted he was a little surprised to see Shemansky back in the lineup Saturday.
Kyle Beattie was Shemansky’s linemate with the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs in the Eastern Junior Hockey League last season and said Shemansky’s resilience comes as no surprise to him.
“He always wants to play. He loves hockey,” said Beattie. “He’s a great player. He keeps his feet moving, he protects the puck very well and makes it hard for big guys to get in there and get the puck from him. He moves the puck very well and uses his teammates well.”
Shemansky, an EJHL all-star last year, said scoring a goal in his first game “boosted my confidence both in games and in practice.
“I still have a lot to improve on. I do what I can in the weight room, during practice and watching videos. I want to make myself a more well-rounded player,” said Shemansky, who had 56 points in 38 games for the Monarchs last year and is New Jersey high school hockey’s No. 6 career scorer with 278 points.