Dickinson freshman Mike McChesney couldn’t have had a finer start to his high school career.
He helped the Midgets boys hockey team to a 4-1 record to start the season — the best start since the 2007 season when the team went 2-2 in its first four games.
“The start of the season was really fun,” McChesney said. “Starting the way we did, I couldn’t ask for anything more, especially with all the first-year players on the roster.”
However in his eighth game of the season against Bismarck High on Dec. 18, McChesney got pinned against the boards and suffered a broken left arm.
“I’ve never felt that type of pain before and I couldn’t move my arm,” McChesney said.
“It was loss for us,” Dickinson junior goalie Brett Schweitzer added. “It kind of crushed our team. We’ve been trying hard to stick with it and it will be a huge upgrade when he comes back.”
The pain took a toll both physically and mentally. McChesney’s promising freshman season came to halt.
Recovery time on a broken arm is at least six weeks, but McChesney plans to return by the West Region Tournament starting Feb. 14 in Bismarck. He started skating this week and he was eager to get back on the ice.
“It’s been tough sitting out, because you want to be out there helping your team,” he said. “When my doctor told me I could get back on skates, I was really excited. I’m able to do more stuff now.”
“I think he’s hoping to be back sooner than that,” Dickinson head coach Tom Folske added with laugh.
The freshman forward was on the first line with senior captain Brendin Steiner and senior alternate captain Jayden Mink. McChesney scored four goals in his first two games and currently has five goals and two assists in eight games.
“He was a big presence,” Steiner said. “Him stepping up to play with Jayden and I was a nice surprise for us. He was able to come out and play extremely well right away.”
Folske had no hesitation putting McChesney on either the top or second line.
“He’s been on a lot of teams and he’s always been the youngest on the team,” Folske said. “He’s always had to work the hardest that he could to prove that he belonged there. His skill set and his talent speaks for itself.”
McChesney might not be the biggest player on the ice, but he fought for every puck during every shift. Prime evidence is his two short-handed goals.
McChesney hasn’t been alone, learning the ropes in his first high school season. He has a handful of teammates doing the same. One of those players is Schweitzer, a junior goaltender, who took a year off to play basketball.
Schweitzer said McChesney might be out, but the freshman forward has a lot to offer the team, especially with three seasons left in his high school career.
“Mike is a great player,” Schweitzer said. “He’s got a lot of talent and he’s just fun to have around in the locker room.”
Replacing McChesney on the first line has been junior Alex Turcotte and senior Austin Krank, who moved from a defenseman to a forward. Turcotte began the season with a wide array of scoring opportunities, yet none of them found the back of the net. The junior forward finally turned the corner, scoring his first goal of the season against Minot on Dec. 15 on the top line. He now has two goals and three assists.
“We’ve switched up our line a couple times and it’s hard to find a rhythm,” Steiner said. “We’ve been having a hard time moving the puck in the offensive zone and scoring goals.”
As a team, the Midgets have hit a rough patch as of late, losing their last four games while being outscored 17-4. Dickinson is looking for a bounce-back performance against Bottineau-Rugby at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Dickinson Recreation Center.
“We’ve been working hard in practice and it just hasn’t been showing in the games,” Dickinson sophomore forward Matt Pavek said. “We just have to keep working hard and things will come to us.”