ROOKIE gets hit in the face by flying puck, bleeds profusely from cut, receives stitches, returns to the game. The NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, ladies and gentlemen.
Nobody will be questioning the toughness of Columbus Blue Jackets rookie Zach Werenski anytime soon.
The 19-year-old was briefly forced out of the playoffs game against Pittsburgh in the second period when a Phil Kessel shot flew up and underneath the rookie’s face mask.
As blood streamed from Werenski’s face in Game 3 of their first-round series, the Blue Jackets conceded a crucial goal to the Penguins, leaving their coach John Tortorella furious that officials didn’t stop play for the obvious injury.
Werenski, who had scored a goal in the first period, was rushed to the locker room to receive treatment. However later in the game, sporting fresh stitches and a giant bruise under his right eye, the youngster somehow returned to the ice. He didn’t make it to overtime in the game though with his swollen eye impairing his vision and forcing him back out.
Pittsburgh went on to defeat Columbus 5-4 in overtime to take a 3-0 lead in the playoffs series.
Werenski was officially ruled out for the rest of the season following a facial fracture diagnosis after the game.
His coach’s summary of the rookie’s heroic effort?
“Balls as big as the building,” Tortorella said.
“It doesn’t surprise me with him. It got to the point where he couldn’t see.”