Coleman Overcomes Injury, Sparks Miami
by Taylor Lewis/CHN Reporter
“Pain” is not a word that comes up when Blake Coleman talks about this season’s first game against Denver.
“I felt weird,” he says.
After getting hit on a routine dump-in, the 5-foot-11, 195-pound RedHawk crawled to the bench. As the goalies pulled him in, he knew something was off. When the doctor pushed on his arm, Coleman says he could "kind of feel the bone popping out into the skin.”
Patience is not a trait that the Texas native expresses either. After going home for surgery, the doctor gave him a 10-week recovery plan. A week later, he was back on the bike and when head coach Enrico Blasi asked him on a recent Thursday whether he was ready to go against St. Cloud State, Coleman had just two days of contact under him in practice.
“I probably could’ve pushed back another week to be safe, but I just felt like it was the right time,” he says.
It is hard to think of a scenario in which the loss of Coleman could have had worse timing. The Miami RedHawks entered this season as the preseason favorite to the win the NCHC according to the media poll. But loss after loss led to a last-place finish in the regular season.
Still, in a bad year, there needs to be some positivity. In this season, that concept not only resonated with the players on the ice, but also extended to Coleman.
“You try to stay as positive as you can with him,” captain Austin Czarnik emphasizes. “It was a hard process for him. Everyone was real positive about it, everyone was always asking him when he was going to get back.”
And even road trips did not leave Coleman behind. Those who had been scratched for a weekend would join the upperclassman in his recovery. That included a bag skate or two.
“They would be more than willing to do it with me, which always makes it a little more enjoyable — when you have some company in misery,” Coleman explains.
As his teammates supported him, Coleman suffered with them. When he reflects on the frustration of not playing — often cited as the worst part of being injured — he recalls one game in particular. Just as Coleman was preparing to get back into the lineup, Miami experienced one of the worst losses in team history, to North Dakota.
The RedHawks lost 9-2 to North Dakota on February 15.
“After four or five goals, I just went down and watched the rest of the game in the locker room, just because I couldn’t bear watching the team get beat like that,” said Coleman. “I knew what this team was capable of and the kind of guys that are in the locker room.”
Miami has collected only two wins since that game, and Coleman has been an integral part in both of them – and even in the losses. Through the final six games of the regular season, he has scored eight goals on 32 shots —16.4 percent of the team’s total shots in that span. For his most recent performance, a four-goal outing last weekend against Denver, Coleman was recognized as the NCHC’s Offensive Player of the Week.
“He’s the goal-scorer and I’m the passer,” says linemate Czarnik, perhaps a surprise revelation for many casual observers. “You know, I look for him.”
And what is Coleman looking for?
“I’ll take a win over that award any day.”
And with Coleman back, and in many ways the epitome of overcoming struggle this season, Miami will face top-seeded St. Cloud in a NCHC quarterfinal, a trip to the inaugural “Frozen Faceoff” in Minneapolis on the line.