and David Ullstrom
have finally returned to the ice after missing nearly three weeks with concussions sustained in a physical 3-2 shootout win over the Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 20.
Both players are relieved to be back playing with the team.
“I feel a lot better,” Montoya said. “It was a scary situation that I faced there. I’ve had some time to deal with it and recover from it. Hopefully everything is behind me and I’ll be able to move forward.”
|Al Montoya prepares to goal tend against the Minnesota Wild on December 17, 2011 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. The Islanders won 2-1. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) |
Montoya said that getting back on the ice was something he needed to take time to do.
“I’ve been honest with myself,” Montoya said. “My thought was never wanting to push it. At the same time, I have to be sure when I want to go out there, when I’m ready to go out there. The trainers have done a great job with me. I feel good now. I’ve been on the ice a couple days and I’m just going to take it day-by-day.”
Playing 11 of the Islanders last 12 games before his injury, Montoya was very much a big part of the Islanders game plan. From where he was, posting a 2.46 goals against average and .917 save percentage in 17 games, and a 6-5-3 record, Montoya was a huge part of the Islanders system.
He called his absence “Very difficult.”
“Right in the middle of the season, we’re in a hunt and you want to be a part of it,” Montoya continued. “The last thing you want to be told is sit back, don’t come on the road. I want to be a part of this team more than anything. It feels good to be back in the room with the guys and being able to do what I love to do.”
During Tuesday’s morning skate, Ullstrom skated for the second time. Out of breath when he came off the ice, the rookie winger said he had just completed four laps around the perimeter, no doubt a tough skate that will help get him back into game shape.
“I feel a lot better,” Ullstrom said. “It was a tough one, but I feel really good.”
Like Montoya, missing the last three weeks of the season has been tough for him. Prior to his inury, Ullstrom had played exactly one month since his Nov. 20 recall, playing in 14 games and recording 2 goals and 2 assists.
“It was tough mentally for sure,” Ullstrom said. “But the team was really positive and said they hoped I could come back quick, so I got some help from the training staff and I was just trying to relax and get away from it a little bit, reset. Now I feel really good so I’m really excited to get back.”
Though both players have started skating, there’s still no timetable for their return to game action.