Hockey: Hanson, Thang are injured
Sam Werner | Thursday, February 12, 2009
After a virtually injury-free season to date, the Irish saw two of their top forwards, Christian Hanson and Ryan Thang, go down in Friday’s win over Ohio State. Thang is expected to miss four to six weeks with a high ankle sprain, while Hanson is week-to-week after suffering a slight concussion.
While there is a chance that Hanson could play this weekend against Northern Michigan, the earliest Thang could see the ice again is the second round of the CCHA playoffs.
The junior right wing went down in the third period of Notre Dame’s eventual 4-3 win. While pursuing a loose puck along the boards, Thang was hit by a Buckeyes player and went down awkwardly.
“It was just a fluke deal,” he said. “I was battling for a puck along the boards. I got hit on my side, my leg kind of buckled, and it bent in ways it wasn’t supposed to go.”
Initially, Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said he thought Thang, who had to be helped off the ice by the Irish training staff, had broken his leg or blown out his knee.
“If that’s a kid that doesn’t have the kind of physical attributes that Ryan has, that’s a broken leg,” Jackson said.
Thang, who has scored nine goals this season, sat out of Sunday’s game against Ohio State for the first time in his collegiate career. The Edina, Minn., native said this is the first significant injury of his hockey career.
“It’s going to be weird,” he said. “It’s tough not being able to come to the rink and skate, but hopefully I’ll be able to get back into the lineup as soon as possible.”
The estimated recovery window places Thang’s return at some point during the CCHA playoffs. While he said he would obviously like to return then, he has to take his rehab one step at a time.
“These things are really funny,” he said. “For some people you can heal pretty fast, but for some people it can take up to eight weeks. Time will tell.”
The injury may remind some Irish fans of when Erik Condra was lost for the season in the second round of least year’s CCHA playoffs. Thang said he talked to Condra about what it was like to miss significant time during the final stretch of the season, but that he is more than confident in his teammates’ ability to make up for his absence.
Jackson also said players such as Justin White and Dan Kissel will have to step up their offensive production in Thang’s absence.
“Guys like Kissel and White are just going to have to elevate their games,” Jackson said. “And contribute not just defensively, but offensively as well.”
Their impacts could be even more important this weekend if Hanson, who leads the team with 14 goals, is forced to sit as well. The senior center was hit hard twice at different points Friday night, but don’t expect him to divulge any details.
“I remember bits and pieces,” Hanson said. “But to be honest I don’t really have a recollection of what happened. I just know I got hit twice pretty hard.”
After skating Wednesday morning, Hanson said his head felt fine, but his shoulder was still a little sore.
“We’ll see how practice goes [Thursday] and make a decision about Friday,” he said.
Jackson and Hanson both said the deciding factor as to whether Hanson plays against the Wildcats is whether or not he could possibly suffer further injury.
“It’s going to be a matter of seeing how it feels and making sure I won’t get hurt worse,” Hanson said. “I can play through the pain, but I don’t want to be put in a situation where I could possibly get hurt worse.”
Jackson was more blunt with his assessment.
“I’m not going to play him if he’s in any risk,” he said.
As far as lineup adjustments go, Jackson said that freshman Patrick Gaul, who played Saturday in Thang and Hanson’s absence, will definitely see ice time this weekend, but that a second substitute won’t be determined until an official decision is made on Hanson’s status.
“You don’t replace guys like that,” Jackson said. “You just make sure that guys who step in there contribute.”
Junior Christiaan Minella and senior Garrett Regan will see more action on the power play while Thang and Hanson are out.
“We’ve bragged about our depth all year long,” Jackson said. “Now it’s going to show up even more.”
uNotre Dame senior center Erik Condra and senior goalie Jordan Pearce were named finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award Wednesday. They are among 10 Div. I hockey players to make the cut for the honor, which recognizes success on the ice, as well as achievements in the classroom and community. Fans can vote for the winner at www.seniorclassaward.com, and the winner will be announced at the 2009 Frozen Four in Washington, D.C.