Monday, December 10, 2012

Hartland's Longeway on way to recovery

Hartland Hounds’ goaltender Colin Longeway was placed on injured reserve a few weeks ago with a season-ending foot injury.

Truth be told, the injury the 19-year-old Pinckney native suffered may have ended his 2012-13 season, but optimism is peaking.

And the injury didn’t even happen on the ice, where Longeway had recorded six wins as the primary backup to Andrew Brownlee.

Instead, a freak accident while on a hunting trip last month has Longeway wondering if his skates and pads have been put away for good.

“I was out hunting with Brownlee and P.J. Krystyniak and we all walked out to our spots,” explained Longeway. “I was climbing over a few logs and the gun fired (straight down into his foot) while I was stepping down. I was in complete shock at first, then started yelling and it took about five minutes for Andy and P.J. to get to me. I immediately knew it was bad. They drove me up to the nearest hospital. Thank God they were there for me.”

Longeway spent the next several days in the hospital and underwent three separate surgeries. While obviously downtrodden about the whole situation, constant visits from Pinckney High School and Hounds’ teammates has kept his spirits well above average.

“The support has been great,” Longeway said. “I had many players I’ve played with come to the hospital to see me and wish me best of luck and it’s made it a lot better. I talk to someone from the Hounds everyday and I’m just hoping to see them all soon. The season up to my injury was amazing, some of the most fun hockey I’ve played and I made some great friends that all got along and we became a family. It was one thing I always looked forward to doing everyday, going to the ice rink to see the boys.”

Once the procedures were done in the operating room, Longeway was faced with the harsh reality that his six wins this season may have been the last of his career.

“My first surgery was to clean out the foot and make sure it doesn’t get infected and then they took a muscle out of my inner thigh to put in my foot,” said Longeway. “The last was just going back in surgery for them to double-check everything and make sure no infections set in. They told me hockey will be done this year, which really made me upset because I love these boys and have had so much fun with them for the time I was there, but the doctors said I should be able to play next year, so we will have to wait and see.”

As a teammate and close friend of Brownlee for the better part of the last 10 years, this season was especially special for Longeway as the two were teammates for the first time since before high school when Longeway played for Pinckney and Brownlee for Howell High School

“I loved playing with Brownlee,” said Longeway. “I’ve played with him my whole life besides high school. He is a brother to me and a great friend. We would always push each other to make each other better.”

In a wheelchair for the time being, Longeway took time to reflect on the past several weeks and realized that from negatives, positives always seem to come to the surface.

“I have learned how dangerous a gun can be and even if you are careful, anything can happen,” Longeway explained. “I found out the hard way, but I know every time I’m going to be even more careful. Going through the pain I went through, I would never want that to happen again. Guns are very dangerous and you have to be very careful with them.”

And even as the surgeons have said playing in the 2013-14 season is a distinct possibility, Longeway wants to do everything he can to get back on the ice at the Hartland Sports Center and continue to partake in what has been a dominant season thus far for the Hounds.

“I have not decided if I’ll be playing hockey again,” said Longeway. “If there is any chance to play with the Hounds this year, I will for sure, but if not, we’ll have to wait and see. Once I can start getting around and walking, I will be training as much and as hard as I can so I can get a chance to get back on the ice. I hope things go as planned and I wish I get the chance to play just one more game with this group of guys on the Hounds. The odds are saying I can’t, so we will just have to see.

“It made it so much fun playing for such a dominant team, I hate losing and playing for the Hounds, I never felt it. There were some close calls, but we always came together as a team and pulled through for each other.”

And now, that brotherhood is as strong as ever as the Hounds rally around their downed teammate.

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