BostonBruins.com – At first, Jeremy Lauzon thought it was just a slash. But after putting his hand to his neck and seeing so much blood, he knew something wasn’t right.
It was April 15 and the Bruins prospect was playing in a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Playoff game for his Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. Lauzon fell behind the net and was clipped in the neck by the skate of one of his Blainville-Boisbriand opponents.
The 19-year-old, who was selected by Boston in the second round of last year’s NHL Draft, was rushed to a local hospital where he immediately went into surgery.
Fortunately, the cut was only to his muscles and avoided any nerves or veins. As a result, Lauzon was able to return to the ice this week, just in time for the 98th Memorial Cup.
“I was really lucky,” Lauzon said following Rouyn-Noranda’s practice Friday ahead of its tournament opener Saturday against Brandon (NHL Network, 7 p.m.).
“The muscle healed really quick….After like three weeks, I knew I had a chance to come back and play.”
Lauzon began off-ice workouts two weeks ago and has had three on-ice sessions to prepare for the Memorial Cup – the perfect venue for his much-anticipated return to action.
“My neck’s pretty good now,” said Lauzon. “I did contact in practice and didn’t think about the injury. I feel pretty good.”
Before he was injured, Lauzon was in the midst of a career year. The 6-foot-2, 193-pound defenseman tallied 50 points (10 goals, 40 assists), his highest total in three seasons in the QMJHL. He also posted an eye-popping plus-40 rating.
“One of the biggest things is my coaches gave me some confidence,” said Lauzon. “I was playing on the first PP at the beginning of the year. Five-on-five, everything that I was doing was working, so there was confidence with my abilities offensively.
“And defensively, too, I increased my level of play…I was playing an all-around game.
He was also invited to Team Canada’s National Junior Team Selection Camp in December. And though he did not play in the World Junior Championship, Lauzon valued the experience.
“I never did a Team Canada program even in Quebec so to be invited there was an incredible experience,” said Lauzon.
“I think I’ve had a great season. When I came back from Boston Bruins camp [last fall], my coach gave me a lot of ice time and I was one of the leaders of the team.”
It has been a year filled with ups and downs, from being drafted, to getting injured, to having a career campaign. Capping it all off with a Memorial Cup victory would be the perfect ending.
“I’m pretty excited,” said Lauzon. “You don’t have the chance to play in this tournament often. A lot of players don’t play in this type of tournament and now I have the chance to play…And I’m excited too because it’s been a month since I played.”