Jason Kasdorf was a real pain for his opposition in the 2012-2013 ECAC season. His 14-5-2 record, 1.62 goals against average and .935 save percentage with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) earned him rookie of the year honours in the Eastern College Athletic Conference. But the 2013-2014 season was a real pain for Kasdorf—in the shoulder specifically.
“Last year around Christmas (2012) I dislocated my shoulder. I went through a month of rehab, came back, and played out the rest of the season,” the 21-year-old Kasdorf said. “I did a lot of shoulder work over the summer to get it nice and strong, and I was feeling good coming into the (2013) season. But then after the first weekend of games, just in a goalie session, I dislocated it again, and after that I went for an MRI, then decided to go for surgery.”
The MRI revealed a torn labrum and broken cartilage. The shoulder problem was the first long-term injury of Kasdorf’s, career, which has seen him play in the MJHL, USHL, and now Division I in the NCAA.
“I couldn’t do anything for about a month. After a month, I started doing stretches with the trainer. I couldn’t do any band work yet,” he said. “At about six weeks after, I was able to start doing band work and minor shoulder movements. Every day, about six days a week, we were doing band work and stretching. Just trying to get my mobility back. It was really tight and weak. Even now, I still do rehab to try and strengthen the muscles around it to prevent it from happening again.”
Winnipeg Jets Coordinator of Player Development, Jimmy Roy, thinks Kasdorf’s recovery is just one step in his development path.
“I think obviously anytime you have an injury that ends your season, it will be a setback in your development,” Roy said. “He’s a goalie, and they tend to take a little bit longer to develop. You see goalies in the NHL getting older and older and older. It is a bit of a setback. But for his development, it just gives him more time to develop physically and mentally.”
Kasdorf was granted a NCAA medical redshirt for this past season, which means he will not lose a year of eligibility. With three years left at RPI, Kasdorf is looking forward to being back on the ice with his teammates.
“The first week after I had the surgery I didn’t really go to the rink much, just because I was on pain killers and out of it,” he said. “After that I was on all the road trips, I was at all the practices, I would go to all the lifts and workouts. I would try and do some lower body stuff when they were training. I didn’t lose too much time with the team.”
When Kasdorf did return to the ice, Roy heard nothing but good things from RPI Head Coach, Seth Appert.
“He said their practice level went up because he was hard for the players to score on. He just brought the level of practice way up,” Roy said. “That as well says a lot about a kid. I expect him to have a good season (next year). I don’t want to put expectations on him. I think he has to develop at his own pace and take ownership of what he wants to become.”
Kasdorf was able to get on the ice for a few workouts before the ice surface was removed at RPI once the season was over, but he says regaining his on-ice confidence will be his focus when he gets back to Winnipeg when school ends.
“I think there’s going to be a little bit of mental side to it when I get on the ice more. Near the end of the season once I started going on the ice, I wasn’t concerned about any blocker shots, it was more falling on it because that’s kind of how it dislocated both times,” Kasdorf said. “If I’m not flopping around I’m fine, but it’s if I try to reach for pucks and get a bit out of control, that’s what I’m not completely confident in right now. Have to get back to that point.”
Kasdorf knows getting his confidence back in the crease will be a lot of work, but he’s prepared for it.
“I’ll be training there five days a week,” he said. “Training in the mornings and getting on the ice quite a bit, just because I missed so much time this season. I want to get on the ice and regain those skills and get more comfortable and more confident in my shoulder being on the ice again.”