It was the moment of truth when Kaid Oliver braced for his first moment of contact in a game since last spring. He withstood it Saturday in Kent, Washington, against the Seattle Thunderbirds and another milestone was passed in his recovery from shoulder surgery.
“It was good to learn everything is holding up. The medical staff here is great and I have full trust in them,” said Oliver.
“I felt great. I found it easy to get going again.”
It goes without saying how tough it was for the Victoria Royals’ 2018-19 regular-season scoring champion to have to sit out the entirety of the playoffs, normal summer training and training camp this fall.
But injuries are what they are.
“You have no option [but to accept injuries when they happen],” said Oliver.
So, feeling frustrated is counter-productive.
Oliver persevered through the recovery process and admits to an almost rookie-type giddiness in finally being able to suit up again Saturday in Kent.
“I was pretty happy and pumped. Then it was a matter of staying calm on my chances and concentrating on hitting the net.”
Oliver had two assists in the 5-3 loss to the Thunderbirds.
“Being on the road probably made it [his return] less stressful,” he said. “But obviously, I’m looking forward to playing in front of our fans.”
That occasion is tonight at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre when the Royals (2-2) host the Everett Silvertips (3-2).
And not a moment too soon as Oliver’s return coincides with the loss of Royals’ sniper Carson Miller for between four-to-six weeks with a lower-body injury. Meanwhile, veteran forward Phillip Schultz, a two-time world junior international for Denmark, has yet to play this season and is still listed week-to-week.
If either wants advice on how to react to injury, they need only ask their teammate Oliver.
Meanwhile, Royals backup goaltender Brock Gould was cited as a ‘C’ prospect (possible fourth- to seventh-round selection) for the 2020 NHL draft in the preliminary list released this week by Central Scouting.
“It’s nice to be recognized and it motivates me to work harder,” said Gould, who turns 18 in December.
The six-foot-four native of Colorado Springs, who understudied graduated Griffen Outhouse last season and will do the same behind 20-year-old Shane Farkas this season, made his first start of the season Saturday in Kent.
“I felt good and thought it was a solid performance,” said Gould.
“I’m feeling more relaxed and confident, and the plays seems slower in front of me, than last season.”
That’s to be expected in the jump from rookie to sophomore seasons. Next season comes the leap to veteran status. But Gould realizes there is a great deal of developing yet ahead.
“I have a lot of athleticism. I need to stay in control and be mentally poised in the net,” he said, of his objectives for this season.