At the beginning of the men’s hockey team’s season in October, senior defenseman Dan Glover faced one of the most difficult choices of his life.
On one hand, he was the most experienced member of a defensive corps thinned by graduation and early departures. Glover was a senior leader with one year left to make a case for a career in professional hockey.
On the other hand, he could not remember the last time he played without pain.
“It was a hard decision to get the surgeries at the beginning of my senior year,” Glover said. “But I think it was a wise decision.”
Just as the season began, the senior from Delburne, Alberta, underwent hip surgery with the hope of returning to the team for the second half of Cornell’s ECACHL campaign. For a young squad searching for an identity early in the year, Glover’s presence on the ice was missed.
“It was hard to sit out during the season,” he said. “But I realized the end of the season was much more important than the beginning — the team would need me more then. I had faith that our guys would put us in a position for the playoffs by the time I could come back.”
After the surgery, Glover submitted to an intensive rehabilitation program designed to restore the defenseman’s strength and condition him for a return to the lineup. The rehabilitation included swimming, weight lifting, physical therapy and more — all conducted as his teammates practiced for the Cornell’s next game.
“It was pretty much just rehab, rehab and more rehab,” Glover said. “Gradually, I was able to get more and more use of my legs.”
Just as demanding for the senior was the mental challenge of watching the Red play from the stands. According to Glover — who sat out part of his rookie season with injuries as well — a bright outlook was the key to a successful recovery.
“I love the game of hockey,” he said. “And support from everyone else made [the rehabilitation] a lot easier. You have to keep a positive attitude.”
Finally, on Dec. 29 against then No. 2 New Hampshire, Glover was penciled into the lineup once again. In his first game back for the Red, the stay-at-home defenseman finished with a +1 rating after he was on the ice for freshman Colin Greening’s goal in the third period.
Since then, Glover has appeared in six games for Cornell and has become a critical part of the Red’s penalty-killing unit. Although Cornell still ranks last in the ECACHL in penalty-killing percentage, Glover’s return helped the team hold Clarkson — the nation’s second-best power play team entering the game — to a 0-for-6 night with the man advantage on Jan. 13.
“[Glover] brings a little bit more of a physical presence to the ice,” said Cornell head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “His play is able to eat up minutes for us on the penalty kill and is important to our defense.”
Glover also made an unlikely contribution to the Red’s offense against Colgate last Saturday. With just under seven minutes to play in the third period, Glover blasted a shot toward Raider goaltender Mark Dekanich. Cornell rookie Justin Milo then tucked the rebound into the net for the game-winning goal, giving Glover his first assist — and point — of the season.
“[The goal] just kind of fell into place,” Glover said. “Like the seas parted or something. It was a sigh of relief for the entire team.”
Glover’s teammates are glad to have the 6-3, 210-lb. bruiser back on the ice as well.
“It’s a good morale boost for the team because [Glover] is a likeable guy and a great penalty killer,” said junior assistant captain Topher Scott. “Its good to feel like our team is back at full strength.”
With eight games left on the schedule and the squad in fourth place in the ECACHL, Glover hopes he can help the Red make a late-season push for the league championship.
“We’ve been playing pretty good hockey,” he said. “We need to keep working on playing our game; [if we] keep working together, things should fall into place for us. We’re only a few points out of first or second place.”
For Glover, the same positive attitude that carried him through his personal recovery can inspire the team to a successful season.
“This is the most skilled team I’ve seen here in four years,” he said. “We have the potential to go all the way.”
A pain-free league title? For the senior, nothing could be better.