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Wiercioch making stronger push toward season

With weight back where it should be, Sens blue line prospect eyes new opportunity

Tuesday, 08.28.2012 / 3:36 PM ET / Features
By Rob Brodie  -
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Wiercioch making stronger push toward season
Thanks in great part to a summer training regiment with Senators conditioning coach Chris Schwarz, defence prospect Patrick Wiercioch has improved his strength level (Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images).

With each passing day, Patrick Wiercioch is feeling more and more like his old self.

And that's definitely good news for a guy who likely has more reason than ever to appreciate the game he loves.

Now packing 210 pounds on his 6-4 frame, the Ottawa Senators defence prospect has taken huge strides this summer on the road back from a scary incident back in December, when he took a puck in the throat during an American Hockey League game against the Norfolk Admirals.

Working alongside Senators conditioning coach Chris Schwarz and centre Kyle Turris — an old buddy going back to their minor hockey days in the Vancouver area — the 21-year-old Wiercioch feels stronger than he has in months. While he did return to finish the 2011-12 season with the Binghamton Senators, his weight had slipped to 189 pounds.

"This summer's been huge," Wiercioch said following a skate earlier today at the Bell Sensplex. "Working with Schwarzy and retooling, it's been huge. It's a considerable amount of weight to put on over the course of the summer ... but it's been progressive. It's been one or two pounds a week or every two weeks. It hasn't been a jump from one period or another. It's been slow, it's been progressive, it's been a process since the end of May.

"That's something (the Senators) wanted me to do, to put in the time, put in the effort and I think it's been really good. Both Kyle and I have really benefited from working with Schwarzy in the weight room and off the ice, too."

Having his good buddy Turris alongside him is always a plus, he added.

"It's really good," said Wiercioch, a second-round pick by the Senators in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. "We train together back home in B.C. during the summers, but it's a lot easier here when you use the (team) facilities and the trainers are here to set up your workouts every morning. So it's nice to have that and hopefully, that'll transfer into success."

While Wiercioch did return to the B-Sens lineup seven weeks after the mishap, the thoughts of what he went through aren't far from mind. He described the damage at the time as "a pretty serious fracture in the back of my neck" with "a lot of internal bleeding that was cause for a lot of panic and concern."

"It was a while," he said of the road back. "When you're living it, you don't really think about how serious it was. But once you can move a step past it and reflect on it, and you see how serious it was and what could have happened from it ... there's definitely things that you struggle with daily.

"You're still at that point where you feel lucky to be alive. Hopefully, something like this doesn't ever happen to me again, yet alone anyone else."

For the first two weeks after the mishap, he couldn't speak at all. During an interview with the Ottawa Citizen back in May, Wiercioch said some doctors told him a year away from the game might be necessary to fully recover.

But here he is now, working toward another season and savouring every moment of it.

"I think you always appreciate the game because it's fun and it's something that you love to do," said Wiercioch. "But when something like that happens and it could be taken away from you that quickly, then you realize how fragile you are."

Wiercioch can also talk confidently at making a push toward landing a spot on the Senators blue line, where there might be a vacancy available in the season to come.

"The team's moving forward with a young core and hopefully, I can be a part of that young core," he said. "When I get that opportunity, I have to make it count and go from there."




1 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
2 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
3 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
4 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
5 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
6 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
7 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
8 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50


E. Karlsson 76 20 42 7 62
K. Turris 76 22 33 -2 55
M. Stone 74 19 35 13 54
B. Ryan 72 18 35 8 53
M. Hoffman 73 26 21 18 47
M. Zibanejad 74 19 24 0 43
M. Michalek 66 13 21 3 34
C. MacArthur 56 14 14 -11 28
D. Legwand 74 9 18 2 27
A. Chiasson 70 11 15 -4 26
C. Anderson 14 13 8 .923 2.49
R. Lehner 9 12 3 .905 3.02