When an April Fool’s prank turned into a scary reality just days later, it was no laughing matter for the Lamswood family.
Adam Lamswood was playing with the Corner Brook Royals at the provincial peewee C hockey tournament in Happy Valley-Goose Bay during the Easter break in 2018.
His dad, Jeff, was along for the ride to cheer on his boy. His mom, Jennifer, was glued to her iPad at home in Corner Brook following the team with a couple of other hockey moms who didn’t make the long trek to the north for the Easter tradition.
On April 1, after the Royals had finished a practice, Jeff decided he wanted to have a laugh at the expense of his wife. He called her and told her Adam won’t be able to play because he broke his leg in practice.
They laughed about it because it was just Mark having fun on April Fool’s Day.
Two days later, during the Royals third round-robin game of the tournament, Adam was the victim of a dirty hit by a player from the Labrador West squad.
Adam was slammed into the end boards from behind and suffered a broken femur.
Dad, videotaping the game on his phone, watched the hit unfold from the stands.
“The place went quiet, but I could hear Adam screaming in pain,” Jeff recalled of the incident that left him riddled with guilt for days because of his April Fool’s joke.
Jeff admits he was angry when he saw his son wasn’t going to get up on his own. He shouted a few things from the stands, directed at the coach and player responsible for the hit.
He soon witnessed a show of class he never envisioned.
After being transported to hospital from the rink, Adam told his dad he would like to talk to the player who hit him. Adam wanted to ensure him that he doesn’t hold any ill will for the hit because he figured the other guy was feeling pretty bad about what happened.
Dad did some legwork to get a number for the other kid and the telephone call was made. Both felt a lot better afterward.
“He was a bigger guy than what I would have ever been for someone that’s been in that situation,” Jeff said.
Adam said he’s been on the receiving end of hard hits before, but he always got up off the ice and skated away with no ill effects.
“I was in a lot of pain. A lot of pain,” Adam said from a dressing room at the Corner Brook Civic Centre before a practice earlier this week.
Doctors and nurses, along with the Royals coaching staff, comforted Adam on the ice until he was transported to hospital. He was placed in traction and held overnight in Happy Valley-Goose Bay before being airlifted to the Janeway in St. John’s the following morning.
Adam was scared. He was emotionally drained. He hadn’t dealt with a serious injury before and didn’t know what the future held for him.
“I was wondering if I would ever hit the ice again,” he said. “Hockey is a really great game and I love the sport. Something I learned through all of this is that I actually enjoy being on the ice more than ever. You kind of take it for granted when you’re out there three or four times a week.”
The injury put a halt to his active lifestyle as he stared down a long rehabilitation.
He was on crutches until July, and when we was free of them he had to take baby steps to get his leg back to where he wanted it to be.
Adam missed a whole summer on the baseball diamond. He wasn’t able to travel out of province to a hockey camp he was hoping to attend.
He had lost a lot of muscle and had to build up his strength and stamina, so he worked hard over the summer because he wanted to get back to playing hockey this year.
At the end of August, he got back on his skates, testing his leg at a Juan Strickland hockey camp.
He found himself a little on the nervous side when it came to being tenacious on the puck and digging in the corner, but he eased himself into it. He realized then there was a lot more work to be done if he was going to play the game again with no worries about his leg.
Long hours of training with regular visits for physio helped him get ready for this season. During the first skate of the year, he took his time getting used to being on the ice, and with every session he found his leg getting stronger.
He no longer looks over his shoulder when he goes into the corners. He believes his leg is stronger than ever now, so he hopes to have a great season, knowing the game could have been taken away from him in the blink of an eye.
“I am past that fear. I’m going to be OK,” he said. “I feel great. I feel like this never happened to me. I got my legs back under me and I’m not scared in the corners.”
Dad won’t be playing any April Fool’s pranks any time soon.