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Rebels goaltender Chase Coward returns after multiple hip surgeries

A congenital defect sidelined him
Red Deer Rebels goaltender Chase Coward leads the team onto the ice against the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Wednesday night at the Peavey Mart Centrium. (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)

Red Deer Rebels goaltender Chase Coward is grateful to be playing hockey again.

It’s been 10 months since the 20-year-old suited up for the Rebels but on Tuesday night he looked like his old self.

However, the road to get back was anything but short and easy.

Last spring Coward was invited to attend the Buffalo Sabres camp but after a physical examination, the medical team discovered he had a congenital defect. More specifically, that meant he had minor hip dysplasia.

After further testing, the medical staff advised Coward wasn’t up to standard to play and that he should stay off the ice, at least for the time being.

That of course led to Coward’s decision to not report to the Rebels training camp last fall.

“It was a difficult decision I had to make. I was kind of unsure of where everything was going to go and I didn’t have anything lined up for surgery,” he said.

Coward said it’s a very common hockey hip injury. Brian Thompson of the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Adam Evanoff, formerly with the Victoria Royals and now with the Regina Cougars, supported him through it. He reached out for advice and chatted about what they went through.

Coward explained that after on-ice sessions he would often struggle to walk and dealt with a lot of pain.

After two hip operations on either side in October and December, things were looking up after a fast turnaround.

“When I went in there originally I was supposed to be on crutches for six weeks but I came out and the doctor said, ‘yeah, just walk at your own pace. Use comfort as your guide.’”

“Normally it takes three months for most varsity athletes to come back from one of these and he said it might take longer because I’m a goalie.”

At this point, he’s unsure of the future and hopes his hips will last him a few more years.

“There’s been a few guys even at the NHL level that have had this done… I’m hopeful I can play for a couple more years before I have to go back in [for further surgery],” Coward said.

He began lightly skating before gradually getting back into his goalie duties. He kept in touch with head coach Steve Konowalchuk and general manager Brent Sutter who invited Coward back with open arms.

When he first started skating it was a slow process and there was very limited movement. Last night he felt like he could go out there, and play his game.

“Coming into the fall I was pretty unsure of what was going to happen but now that I’m back I’m just trying to pick up where I left off last year in playoffs and get the ball rolling again.”

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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