It’s been a long road to recovery from a high ankle sprain that put Red Deer Rebels sniper Ben King out for three months.
However, despite the trials and tribulations, it didn’t take long for the 20-year-old to find his game.
Since returning on Jan. 20 King has 10 points in nine games plus a pair of shootout winners within the last week against Spokane and Portland.
“I think my game’s come along after being out for 30 some games,” he told The Advocate.
“I just want to keep trying to play as hard as I can and do everything I can to help the team win. That’s the end goal is winning games so whether it’s defensive or trying to put the puck in the net I’m doing all that to try and help my team win.”
King suffered a high ankle sprain on Oct. 22 against the Prince Albert Raiders. While fighting for position along the boards’ King fell backward and appeared to bend his leg in an awkward direction.
The setback was heart-wrenching for not only King but also for the Rebels faithful who were excited to have him back on the team after his career-high 105-point campaign in 2021-22.
The injury sidelined King after only playing five games after returning from NHL’s Anaheim Ducks training camp. The sprain required surgery but when it first happened it didn’t cross King’s mind that he could be out long-term.
“I definitely knew something was wrong as soon as it happened but sometimes in games, you get a little tweak and it flares up and goes away,” he added.
“I was hoping for that … I wasn’t expecting as bad of an injury as it was but unfortunately it was what it was.”
Once it happened the process of recovery was a team effort between the Ducks and Red Deer Rebels medical staff. According to King, surgery was necessary due to the risk of ligaments not reattaching to the ankle.
“The surgery was a more sure way that I’ll get back with a timeline rather than just sitting around waiting and hoping,” he added.
King immediately began rehabilitation walking around on crutches for most of the duration of his injury until he transitioned to a walking boot. Every game King watched his teammates go to battle on the ice while he sat in the stands, which was frustrating, to say the least.
“It got even harder as I got healthier just knowing I was feeling good and I could almost be out there even though I wasn’t ready. Near the end were the hardest few games to watch but the team was really good when I was sitting out… It was a little easier that way.”
Once King was medically cleared to remove the boot, he explained getting the mobility back was his first priority before strengthening it in the weight room.
“Your body doesn’t want to use it within the first three months so just getting my head on straight and using my ankle like I normally would,” King added.
“Skating was a little weird when you don’t use a foot for so long but it came along quickly and actually felt really good.”
The process of his return was quite rewarding for King who put in the necessary work every day to build himself back up.
He couldn’t have come back at a better time as the Rebels are in the final stretch of games before the Western Hockey League playoffs begin.
“This time of year is the most fun besides playoffs and every team is pushing for seeding or to make the playoffs. Every game is tough. No team is going to come out there and go through the motions, they’re bringing their best game,” he added.
“This last stretch is going to be exciting for us.”