While the Red Deer Rebels’ season has been punctuated with injury after injury, third-year forward Colten Mayor has endured as a warrior, even though he hasn’t escaped the doctor’s office.
Mayor has played in all of the Rebels’ 50 games. His iron-man streak is that much more remarkable considering he has quietly worn a cast on his broken right wrist for the past 10 games.
“It’s not really bothering me too much,” Mayor said Wednesday, the day after his two assists helped Red Deer defeat the host Medicine Hat Tigers 6-3. “It’s holding up. I think I’m probably getting another cast on it (this week), because it’s starting to break down again, but everything is going fine with it. I’m pretty happy that it’s not taking me out of the lineup.”
The man known as “Colt” is bucking the injury epidemic that has dogged the Rebels this Western Hockey League season. Mayor and Chad Robinson are the lone Rebels to have played in every game.
Mayor is enjoying a career year, with 14 goals and 37 points, including seven points since suffering “a hairline break” during a 4-3 shootout win over the Edmonton Oil Kings on Jan. 8.
In the Rexall Place spotlight, not far from his St. Albert roots, Mayor scored a regulation goal and the shootout winner. What’s more, he did so after breaking his wrist.
“In the second period, I made a hit on (Edmonton defenceman Griffin) Reinhart and my wrist just jammed up and I knew something was wrong with it,” Mayor said. “(Rebels athletic therapist) Terence (Robertson) just taped it up really good and I went through the rest of the game with it.
“It hurt and it was bugging me during that game, but I just tried to get it out of my mind, because obviously you have to play through stuff like that. Red Deer focuses on a lot of mental toughness. We harp on that and we train our mental toughness, so I wanted to use what I’ve learned over the last few years and just get through the game.
“And even playing with the cast, it restricts me a little bit, so I’ve just got to mentally tell myself that it’s not an issue. And that’s how it’s been lately — during a game, I don’t even think about it, at all.”
Mayor, 18, couldn’t help but think about his star performance at Edmonton in the fifth round of the shootout, with the winning goal against Oil Kings goaltender Laurent Brossoit.
“I went in and showed him my backhand and got him to bite, and then I cut across the crease and slid it in on the ice on my forehand,” recalled Mayor, whose reaction afterward illustrated it was his biggest goal of the season.
“It was fun. My whole family and a bunch of friends were there, so I had a lot of support. I love the shootout and I was really happy to get the winner. And it was a big game for us, too. The Oil Kings are first in the (Eastern) Conference.”
Sitting two points behind the Brandon Wheat Kings in the race for the eighth and final playoff position in the conference, the Rebels visit Edmonton tonight before hosting the streaking Calgary Hitmen on Saturday night.
“We’ve beat (the Oil Kings) twice this season already, so we just need to know that we can do it and believe in ourselves, and obviously take what we got out of the win against Medicine Hat and bring that confidence and excitement into the game on Friday,” Mayor said.
It’s always a big deal for the Rebels when they visit Edmonton, especially for the players from the capital city region who grew up watching the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place.
“Even when I was six years old, playing initiation (hockey) in St. Albert, I remember I had a game (at Rexall Place) and it was just awesome,” Mayor said. “It was all our dreams to play in a rink like that one day. I just remember how it amazing it was. And now I have the opportunity to play there lots.”
Red Deer and Edmonton could end up facing each other in the first round of the playoffs, though there’s still six weeks left in the regular season and potential for teams to rise and fall.
Mayor is thankful that he’s part of the Rebels’ playoff push, even if he has to play three more weeks with a hard cast in tow. He continues to be a regular contributor, though most people who aren’t associated with the team weren’t aware of his injury.
“I obviously don’t flaunt it or anything,” Mayor said with a chuckle. “You can’t really tell. I just put my glove on over it. And I have a suit on when I’m outside the rink. It’s a black cast, so it blends in.”
A protective cast was recommended to prevent further damage to Mayor’s wrist and to enable him to remain in action. The initial cast was later replaced with a thinner version to give him more mobility when gripping his stick.
“The first cast was pretty high up on my palm, and I like to hold my stick right in the middle of my palm, so it was kind of frustrating,” said Mayor, six-foot-two and 175 pounds. “And after about a week, the cast was pretty much broken right down. There wasn’t really anything left on my hand, from playing with it.
“So, the next time, we kind of customized the cast and I moulded it to the end of a hockey stick while it was still wet, so it feels a lot better. It’s just a bit restricting. I can’t move my wrist like I could before, so kind of the in-tight stuff and the toe-drags and stuff are a bit challenging, but anything other than that, it’s fine.”
The hairline fracture in his right wrist wasn’t detected in the initial X-ray, but a follow-up MRI spotted a torn tendon on one side of the bone.
“I told my trainer about an article I read, where someone was kind of dealing with the same thing and they never got the cast on it,” Mayor said. “They just played through it, and now they’re getting surgery, and they’re probably done for almost the rest of the season.
“I just have to look at it like that. I’d rather play with it and maybe be a little bit restricted here and there, then tape it up and feel better, rather than having it cause injury down the road and more time not playing.”