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Scrymgeour is hitting his stride a year after season-ending injury
Jan. 25, 2008
By LINDA BOUVET, LSSU Sports Information Director
As great as the 2006-07 season was for the Lake Superior State hockey team, which advanced to the Central Collegiate Hockey Association semifinals at Joe Louis Arena for the first time in 11 years, forward John Scrymgeour's late-season absence from the lineup profoundly impacted the Lakers.
"I missed playing in the CCHA semifinals," said Scrymgeour, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on Jan. 26, 2007. "I ended up going down to the lockerroom to visit the guys at the Joe. As much as they made me feel like part of the team, I still wished I was on the ice. I never got the opportunity to play at the Joe last year (LSSU also played a regular-season game at JLA on Feb. 18, 2007), and that's something I've wanted to do since I signed my letter."
Scrymgeour was hitting his stride at the collegiate level when a freak hit severely twisted his knee during last season's Ohio State series. The rookie had scored two of his three goals in January, 2007, just prior to his injury. The loss of Scrymgeour forced coach Jim Roque to move defenseman Justin Gutwald to forward for the rest of the season.
Dr. Ogilvie-Harris of the Toronto Maple Leafs performed Scrymgeour's surgery in March. Scrymgeour endured grueling rehab and skated for the first time on June 23, which was his birthday.
"It felt great to get out there, but it also felt like I had a long way to go," he said.
From a development standpoint, according to Roque, 2006-07 and 2007-08 have been one long season for Scrymgeour.
"The injury slowed his progress as a sophomore, but he's been doing fine," Roque said. "He's on the same learning curve as last year. He's playing his best hockey after Christmas - same as last year. His freshman and sophomore years are like one year for him."
Scrymgeour, whose strength in his good leg was considered off the charts by his physical therapists, returned to LSSU in the fall with about 80 percent of the strength returned in his injured leg. He was finally cleared to play during the second week of the season when the Lakers played host to Western Ontario in an exhibition game. He scored his first goal of the 2007-08 season at home against Michigan on Nov. 17, and he notched his second goal a week later at Northern Michigan.
The 6-1, 197-pound forward from Pickering, Ont., might not always agree that he provides a calming presence when he's on the ice, but a strong case can be made that the sophomore often plays more like a seasoned veteran. Scrymgeour doesn't take bad penalties, he usually holds his own defensively, is a key player on the penalty kill and has the potential to be a consistent goal scorer.
"He's another guy who tries to carry too much on his shoulders sometimes," Roque said. "If he just does his own job and not seven other jobs, he's fine. Just getting through the season - playing in some big games and playoff games - will be a huge plus for him."
Scrymgeour and freshman linemate Chad Nehring had assists in both games of the Jan. 11-12 split with Bowling Green State. Their play helped sophomore linemate Pat Aubry score his first goal of the season.
"Our work ethic is starting to improve, especially among the younger players, and our confidence is growing," Scrymgeour said. "Just the experience alone is helping everyone. (The challenging schedule) is helping us mature as a team. When I realized the cluster we were in, with Northern, Michigan and Michigan State, I was happy to be thrown into that right away. I remember the Wisconsin tournament last year and the good teams that were there. I was really looking forward to playing them. When you are put against better teams, you are naturally forced to elevate your game. I'm not saying that Michigan and Michigan State are better than us. I'm just saying that playing them more often challenges us every night."
Scrymgeour is part of a sophomore class that has logged plenty of ice time during the past two seasons. When healthy, his goal has been to gain strength and improve his "consciousness of the game," or ability to read situations and make good decisions.
"A lot of teams' freshmen and sophomores don't get to play," Scrymgeour said. "We not only get to play as sophomores, but we get to be leaders, and I think it's a privilege. Even with a young team, I believe we can win on any given night against any team we play against. Are we overwhelmed? No. But is there more experience on the other side of the ice? Maybe."
Scrymgeour's father, James, is a fireman, and his mother, Carol, works for Imperial Oil. His family is community-minded, and Scrymgeour has embraced the community service projects taken on by the team during the past two seasons. He was impressed with the reception the team received when serving Christmas dinner at Avery Square, which is just one of many off-ice events that involves the Lakers during the year.
"From playing minor hockey and helping out in the community, you learn that hockey is a big part of the community," he said. "When you play in a small town, you get to know people. Community service doesn't feel like work when you're doing something with your friends...That car was we had last September...If it hadn't been so cold, it wouldn't have felt like work at all."
Lake Superior State Men's Ice Hockey