Hawks prospect hopes to be ready for training camp
Rockford, Ill.- Adversity works its way into just about every athletes life, especially at the professional level. It’s not very often, however, that adversity occurs before a career even gets started.
Center Nathan Davis was coming off of a dream season during his junior campaign in 2006-07 at Miami (Ohio) University. After racking up 21 goals and 29 assists in 42 games with the RedHawks, Davis was a top ten finalist for college hockey’s most prestigious individual award, the Hobey Baker.
But a shoulder injury temporarily derailed his senior season in 2007-08 and eventually ended it early. The injury also cost Davis his first taste of professional hockey with the Rockford IceHogs.
“Dislocating my shoulder again the second to last game of the year was not fun,” said Davis following a rehab workout at the Blackhawks training facility in Bensenville. “Obviously because of that, I went home a couple of days after (the injury) and had the surgery.
“I would have loved to of played a couple games (in Rockford). It’s nice from the standpoint, where you get to meet the guys. So I was planning on it and I was hoping to be a part of it. But I would have loved to have been there and helped out any way I could. But it is what it is and I’m getting ready for next year.”
The second shoulder injury was twice as tough for Davis to swallow. Not only did it prevent him from making his pro debut, but it cost him a chance at playing for a National Championship at Miami. The injury occurred in the Northeast Regional Semifinal against Air Force. Miami would go on to beat the Falcons in overtime to advance to the Regional Finals against Boston College.
Miami’s aspiration of college hockey supremacy was cut short against the Eagles, falling to the eventual National Champions 4-3 in overtime with Davis on the sidelines watching.
Now the Blackhawks fourth-round selection (#113 overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft has shifted his focus to the next level, all while making sure his shoulder is ready to go come September.
“I’ve been doing quite a bit of rehab, it’s about an hour a day but it’s going well and the shoulder feels good,” Davis said. “It’s nice to be out on the ice. I had the surgery about three months ago. It’s been about three and a half to four months since I’ve been out on the ice. It is tight and I can’t really shoot or stickhandle, so I’m kind of going through the motions. But it feels good to be back out on the ice and feels good to be moving again.”
There’s no doubt that Davis could have contributed to the IceHogs in the postseason last spring. In 21 games last season, Davis accumulated 17 and had the intentions of joining Rockford for the playoffs.
“That’s kind of been the pattern for college guys the last few years,” said Davis. “With it being my fourth year, my senior year, my eligibility was gone I knew I was out and that’s what most guys have done. That was one thing that I was looking forward to for a while. Obviously we wanted to make it as far as we could in the college season and do what we could (at Miami). But I definitely wanted to get a little taste of pro hockey at the end of the year, especially going into the playoffs.”
A lot of highly drafted athletes opt out of their senior season of eligibility to trade in the books for a professional paycheck. But Davis remained committed to Miami with the drive of a championship still in him.
“That was one of the big reasons that I decided to go back to school for my senior year” said Davis. “I knew what kind of team we had and I knew we had a really, really great freshman class. I saw those guys come in and work out last summer.“
College hockey fans might not think of the RedHawks when rattling off hockey powerhouses in the NCAA. Miami, however, has built a consistent program over the past few years behind head coach Enrico Blasi.
Under Blasi, the RedHawks have qualified for the NCAA tournament three of the last four seasons, and it was something that Davis was happy to be a part of.
“It’s something I’m proud of,” said Davis of the team’s success at Miami. “That program made a lot of strides in the four years that I was there. It’s going in the right direction and I think they should be great for a lot years. It’s tough in college hockey to become one of the contenders. They are on their way they just have to keep plugging away.”
With the college game behind him, the 6-1 Davis now focuses solely on his professional career. After finishing tenth on the RedHawks all time scoring list with 132 career points, Davis is hoping the success carries over to the pros.
To get there though, Davis has to overcome the shoulder injuries that plagued him during his final collegiate season.
“I’ve got to get a little more creative with the way I get in shape for camp,” Said Davis. “I have some limitation as far as when I can skate when I can shoot, and stickhandle. I would be on the ice a little earlier and getting back to full contact a littler earlier if it was a normal summer.“
The Rocky River, Ohio native still hasn’t lost focus on his goal, however, and that’s earning a spot on the Chicago roster this September at training camp.
“I want to make the Blackhawks and I have got to be the best I can going into camp and (my shoulder) is just one of those things that I got to get over,” said Davis. “The doctors have said that the rehab with the full recovery time for this is five months, which puts me early September, before training camp. So I should be fine and I should be ready to go and give it my best shot.”
If Davis doesn’t make the Hawks out of training camp, he will then begin his first professional season in an IceHogs uniform.
Season Tickets Now On Sale: The Rockford IceHogs have a variety of season ticket packages available for the 2008-09 season. To find a package that works for you, call (815) 986-6465 and speak with a season ticket sales executive.