Pottruff’s triumphant return
Ryan Pottruff has recovered from a broken leg and is back in the Knights' lineup
Cory Smith - Sports reporter
Tuesday December 14, 2004
Woodstock Sentinel-Review LONDON - Ryan Pottruff was tired of watching.
All tied up: The Knights' Ryan Pottruff tries to get past Guelph's Shawn Haviland during the first period of their OHL matchup at the John Labatt Centre.
Photo by Geoff Robins - Sun Media
For the first 28 games of the London Knights’ remarkable undefeated streak, Pottruff could only watch from the sidelines as he rehabilitated a broken leg. So it came as a huge relief when the Woodstock native, in his third game back, scored his first goal of the season during Sunday’s 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Kitchener Rangers.
The goal was even bigger for the Knights, who trailed 3-0 going into the third period. The Knights rode that momentum to a Canadian Hockey League record 31st game without a loss.
“It was a big confidence booster for the team when I scored. The crowd got into it and it was a turning point,” Pottruff, 18, said last night. “We needed a quick goal and that sparked the guys.”
“He’s a big defenceman and where does he bang it in from? The top of the crease,” Knights coach Dale Hunter said of Pottruff’s goal in the London Free Press.
While the Knights are happy to see Pottruff make an immediate impact, it’s incredible that he’s actually playing.
The six-foot-two defenceman broke his leg in the Knights first exhibition game, Sept. 3 against Sarnia. He wasn’t expected to suit up again until mid-January. Pottruff retuned Dec. 4 in Erie, thanks to a quick healing process. Although Sunday was his third game back in the lineup, it was his first on the blueline. He had been used as a forward until he was able to pivot properly.
“It was pretty good,” Pottruff said. “It felt pretty natural back there. It was like I hadn’t left.”
However, it was a bittersweet three months for Pottruff. The seventh-round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes is just starting to truly feel part of the Knights’ record-breaking streak, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. With three top players already at the Canadian world junior training camp, and Rob Schremp heading to the American camp this week, the Knights’ depth will be tested, and that’s where Pottruff feels he and others will be able to shine.
“This gives me a chance to perform and show the coaches what I can do, as well as the other guys who don’t have as big a roll,” said Pottruff, who has been part of the record-tying, record-breaking and record-setting games. “It’s unbelievable, really. You never would have thunk it at the beginning of the year we were going to go 31 games undefeated.”
The Knights will get a chance to extend the streak this weekend when they host the Sudbury Wolves Friday and the Guelph Storm Saturday. While the undefeated streak has been an incredible run, Pottruff admits it hasn’t always been an easy one. The media coverage has been intense, especially with the NHL locked out, and the pressure mounts each game as teams want to be the first to beat Canada’s top major junior squad.
“I can see us continuing the streak. We’ve gotta have a lot of depth, and that’s what makes this team so great,” Pottruff said.
“People don’t realize it’s emotionally draining. There’s a lot of pressure to keep it going. With all the media around, it can make you pretty nervous.”