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Examiner
  • Maverick overcomes near-fatal injury

  • The scars on Dave Pszenyczny’s right forearm look more like something you would expect to see on the victim of a zombie attack than a professional hockey player.

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  • The scars on Dave Pszenyczny’s right forearm look more like something you would expect to see on the victim of a zombie attack than a professional hockey player.
    They are deep, and they are ugly.
    But not as ugly as the photo the defenseman has on his cell phone from an injury that nearly ended his hockey career. And his life.
    “I was told I wouldn’t be able to play hockey after I got this scar,” said Pszenyczny, who has a goal and two assists in the postseason for the Mavericks, who will attempt to win their seventh consecutive playoff game at 7:05 p.m. tonight at the Independence Events Center when they  host Fort Wayne in the Turner Conference championship series.
    “I don’t really like to talk about my faith and spirituality, but it wasn’t my time. I later found out the emergency room doctor said, ‘He shouldn’t have been breathing when they brought him in here.’ I guess there’s a reason I’m still around.”
    The freak accident happened in 2007, when Pszenyczny was a member of the Phoenix Roadrunners.
    “We were playing in Anchorage, and I got tangled up with (Aces center Vladimir Novak) and he came off the boards and skated across my arm,” said the Mavericks defenseman, who to this day has no feeling in his right hand.
    “He cut all the tendons in my arm with his skate and cut one artery and nicked the other one. If both arteries had been cut, well, I wouldn’t be here today.”
    After the accident, Pszenyczny looked at his arm and saw a gaping, three-inch cut.
    “I knew it was bad when I saw the bone,” he said. “You could see where the skate actually cut the bone. It was bad – really bad.”
    The doctors in the emergency room attempted to cauterize the wound to stop the bleeding. Pszenyczny was then rushed into the operating room where he underwent a 5 1/2 hour procedure that would likely end his professional hockey career.
    “They told me I probably wouldn’t be able to play hockey again,” he said, “and if I did come back, it would take two or two and a half years.”
    He was back on the ice the next season.
    “I worked hard to come back,” he said. “I had five months of rehab where I would pick up nuts and bolts and try to screw them into a board without looking. It was tough, because I have no feeling in my hand. But I worked hard, and I think I even surprised my therapist with my progress.”
    Not only did Pszenyczny return to the CHL, he played a key role last season in the surprising CHL championship won by the now-defunct Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs.
    Page 2 of 3 - “I see a lot of parallels between the Mudbugs’ championship and what we’re trying to do here with the Mavericks,” he said. “No one thought we would do anything in the playoffs last season, and like (goaltender) Charlie Effinger said this year, we’re the dark horses. No one thought we’d sweep Evansville and be up 2-0 against Fort Wayne.”
    Pszenyczny is a big reason for the Mavericks’ success this season.
    “This is the reason we signed Dave,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said, “to have a solid leader in our locker room and on the ice for the regular season and the playoffs. He’s a leader, a warrior. We’ve never had a player cut from his mold. I think one reason we’ve had limited success in the past is because we haven’t had players like Chezzy and (defenseman David) Simoes. They have made a huge impact on this team.”
    Effinger, one of the premier goalies in the CHL who has raised his game to new levels in the playoffs, agrees with Hillman.
    “As a goalie, you love to have a teammate like Chezzy,” Effinger said. “He would kill himself to stop a shot. He’d do anything to help this team win a game. I love the guy.”
    Pszenyczny smiles when he says, “This season is like déjà vu all over again. But I could have done without that injury against Evansville in the game we swept them in our barn.”
    In the Mavericks’ 3-1 victory that swept Evansville out of the playoffs, he suffered a cut on the same forearm that nearly duplicates his previous scar.
    “This one looked worse than it actually was,” Pszenyczny said as he rolled up the sleeve on his jersey to show a purple and black scar that would make a casual fan grimace.
    Early in the second period of the win over Evansville, Pszenyczny was on his right side and his glove came flying off onto the ice. He clutched his right arm as a big flap of skin covered an area that oozed blood out onto the ice. Once again, he had been cut by an opponent’s skate.
    As he left the ice, the public address announcer made a call for the team doctor to meet Pszenyczny in the locker room.
    “I’m squeamish,” Hillman told The Examiner that night. “I saw a line of blood (on his arm) and was afraid I’d see a bone sticking out.”
    Much to the delight and surprise of his coach, teammates and fans, Pszenyczny skated back to the bench at the 16:29 mark after receiving seven stitches to seal the gash.
    He took part in a 4-on-4 shift following the first penalties of the game and later slid to his knees to block a shot.
    Page 3 of 3 - “Like I said,” Hillman added, “he’s a warrior.”
    Much like his teammates, Pszenyczny is taking each playoff game one at a time.
    “I’m not thinking about anything except our game Wednesday night,” said Pszenyczny, a finalist for the CHL’s Defensive Player of the Year Award. “Someone told me the other day, we’ve won 10 games in a row. I didn’t know that, and I bet most of the guys in the locker room aren’t aware of that either.
    “We’re just thinking about the task at hand, how to beat Evansville and get a step closer to the championship series.”
    Not bad for a guy who could have been left for dead in an emergency room; who had to learn how to write with his left hand after his first bout with the blade of an opponent’s skate; a warrior with a will to win that has rubbed off on his new team – a team that is on the brink of something no one dreamed of at the midway point of the regular season.
    “Chezzy is the man,” Effinger said. “He’s the type of guy championship teams have. And I’m glad he’s on our side.”
    TICKETS AVAILABLE: Tickets for all home playoff games are available in all price ranges. They are available at www.ticketmaster.com and the Events Center box office.
     

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