If Blake Gallagher is going to play his way into the Frozen Four, he’s going to have to do it on a frozen foot.
Despite having a high ankle sprain and needing a walking cast to get around campus at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., the Cole Harbour native has been getting injections to freeze his foot so he can continue to suit up for the Big Red.
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Gallagher, a junior forward, helped his team get to this weekend’s NCAA tournament — hockey’s version of the Sweet 16 — by playing through plenty of pain in a must-win double-overtime victory over Princeton last Friday.
“It actually wore off during the third and they had to freeze it again for overtime,” Gallagher said. “Obviously it’s nothing you want to do, but at that point in the season, I wanted to play, I wanted to give our team a chance to win. I’m glad I did. We won and now we’re in the NCAA tournament.”
The five-foot-seven, 175-pound former Dartmouth Subways captain is still waiting to find out if he can play on Saturday against Northeastern. He said his ankle is being examined closely this week and that doctors might not give him clearance to have it frozen again if the damage is severe.
“It doesn’t look good,” he admitted.
Gallagher’s presence is important for Cornell. He has played an increasingly important role with the squad over the past three years, and earned second-team all-Ivy League honours two weeks ago after posting 26 points in 33 games.
He was particularly strong in the second half, scoring all six of his goals among 21 points in a 19-game stretch.
All in all, he’s thrilled with his decision to further his hockey career at a U.S. college instead of major junior, a direction few Nova Scotian teens choose to take.
“I absolutely love it,” he said. “We probably have the loudest fans in the country night-in, night-out. Our rink is packed every night. It’s an unbelievable experience.”
With or without Gallagher, Cornell is as good a bet as any to emerge from the Midwest Regional.
It has a 21-9-4 record and is in the top 10 of most national rankings.
And if they get to the Frozen Four?
“I’ll definitely play,” Gallagher said with a laugh. “If they cut my foot off, I’d still play in the Frozen Four.”