November 29, 2007

Mugford, Nash Complete Long Road Back

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With one game left to play before Winter Break, the men’s hockey team is already starting to show signs of the wear and tear of a long, rigorous season
Luckily, two players who have been solid contributing members for the Red in the past were healthy enough to replace a few holes in the ranks on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
Junior forward Tyler Mugford, who missed four games prior to Saturday’s contest, and sophomore defensemen Brendan Nash, who had not played a game all season due to a knee injury, are now ready to reassume their places on the team.
“I think you are just always a part of the team,” Nash said. “The guys don’t look at you any different when you’re hurt. They just treat you as one the guys playing.”
Last season, Mugford contributed six points and brought a necessary physical presence to every match-up. So far this year, Mugford, who tallied one assist and three penalties, was already an important influence on the team’s more physical style of play this year. When he was cleared to play at the Garden, there was no hesitation about his impact on the team or his readiness to take the ice.
“You’re around the boys a lot so when you’re hurt you’re still here five or six hours a day so you don’t really lose much,” Mugford said. “Maybe a little conditioning here and there but you stay on the bike an awful lot and stay in shape that way.”
After a successful freshman campaign in which Nash earned ECAC Hockey League All-Newcomer team honors and logged 14 points last year, the team has felt his absence on defense so far this season. While Nash has been practicing with the team, it wasn’t clear until the last minute when he’d be cleared to play.
“Brendan’s been inching his way back and has been for the last couple weeks,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86. “We’ve been very careful with him watching him in practice as far as making sure he’s not sure and isn’t getting swelling. … He hasn’t had any of that over the last couple weeks so that is what went into the decision that he was cleared to play.
“He’s faced a lot of risk just in practice and a lot of times he’s faced more risk in practice than he has in a game. He had to be comfortable with the decision to go back in and play. … MSG was a game we were kind of hoping for as long as there weren’t any setbacks and he didn’t really have any. So it was kind of the opportune time, but obviously not easing back into it in any shape or form.”