One. Two. Three. They just started coming. At first, senior Joey Davies was scoring, then he was setting up his teammate.
After surrendering five unanswered goals to SUNY Geneseo on Jan. 21, Davies led the Lakers storming back with five of their own to steal a point on the road. He finished with a hat trick.
“Resilient, just like his personality,” Lakers head coach Ed Gosek said.
After Davies’ previous two seasons, a five-goal deficit does not seem like the most improbable situation to overcome. A torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and a leg fracture ended his first and second seasons in Oswego, respectively.
Davies’ linemate Shawn Hulshof recognized some maturity in his fellow senior that night in Geneseo. He said Davies remained positive, despite the odds.
“I know he doesn’t have a letter on his jersey but he showed a lot of leadership that game along with [Neil] and [Raguseo],” Hulshof said. “They were speaking up a lot on the bench, but Davies really got us going.”
The Demorestville, Ontario-native came to Oswego State following a season at Div. I Alaska-Fairbanks. He played in nine games for the Nanooks during the first semester, but as the season progressed he was not breaking into the lineup. Even though his relationships with his teammates and coaches were fine, it was time for a change.
Gosek had Davies on his radar since juniors and was happy to have him join the Lakers.
“His game is built on intelligence,” Gosek said. “I don’t think he’s going to score the highlight reel goals as much as we’ve seen, but he’s good in and around the net. He’s got a good stick, good hockey sense and good presence.”
The new addition got himself noticed during his first action in green and gold in an exhibition against the U.S. National Under-18 squad in 2014. Davies contributed two goals and an assist as Oswego State defeated a squad headlined by future No. 1 NHL Draft Pick Auston Matthews.
It was a cool experience for the transfer and, at the time, it felt like the first step toward proving himself to his new program. Unfortunately, when regular season action started at Buffalo State the following weekend, a torn ACL ended his season.
Davies was back the next season and featured in each of the first 14 games, but the injury bug got him again. This time, it was on the road against Utica College where he fractured his leg. He made it back in time for the postseason, however, another half of a season was lost.
Gosek sees a silver lining in all the adversity. This narrative can serve as an example for other Lakers just starting their careers, as well as kids just beginning to play the game.
“With him, what you see is what you get,” Gosek said. “He’s a smart guy, levelheaded, realistic. We’re happy to see him be rewarded. It’s as simple as that. He could’ve made excuses, went the other way, not put in the time, not put in the effort, but he did.”
Sticking with the recovery from injuries such as the ones Davies has faced is no easy task. Team trainer Elise Fitzsimmons worked with the senior every step of the way in the weight room, the training room and on the ice.
“The problem is keeping people reined in mentally and physically because you feel like you can do more, whereas physically I know where you are in the healing process and what you should be doing pressure wise on that ligament,” she said.
Fitzsimmons stresses that injuries impact each person in different ways. An ACL tear can keep an athlete out for nine months. Davies was skating at four months, due to a strong base and his physical strength, which made it easier for him to recover.
Davies gives a lot of the praise to his support system. Each season he received plenty of phone calls and texts encouraging him to push forward. Yet, above all, it was his mother who may have had the largest impact.
Kathy Davies made the roughly three-hour trip to come help almost every weekend after her son’s knee injury two years ago. She was there every day she could.
Fast forward to 2017, this is the first season in Oswego State that Davies has played through January and into February. He feels like there is something to prove everyday. Not to mention, tired legs late in the season are nothing to him at this point.
“That might be why you’re seeing Joey hitting his stride,” Fitzsimmons said. “At this point, he’s already fought back from injuries where he’s had to deal with building up his musculature, whereas now he’s just healthy.”