RICHFIELD, Minn. — There was a heartfelt homecoming Thursday night for a young hockey player hurt on the ice.
After spending less than two weeks recovering in the hospital from a, Mason Garcia returned to the Richfield Ice Arena to be with his Academy of Holy Angels team.
Before their game, the PA announcer welcomed the senior captain back.
"For the first seven hours after the hit, I had no movement at all below my neck," Garcia said. "The only thing I could do was blink."
But feeling began to come back, and Garcia worked, and continues to work, at physical therapy.
Ten days after the injury, he walked out of the hospital.
"I'm still me. I'm still the same person," Garcia said. "My life is just going to look a little differently. I'm still going to be working hard whether it's towards hockey or now towards getting back into the normal version I was before I got hurt."
Even if his season won't be what he imagined, it's not in Garcia's DNA to take a negative view.
"I kind of told [my teammates], 'You guys, don't worry about me," he said. "'You guys work on your stuff and doing the best you guys can do. I'm going to work on my stuff, and it'll all be ok. Don't worry about me.'"
Garcia high-fived his team as they made their way onto the ice, encouraging them.
"Nothing's going to change with him," said Patrick Griswold, AHA's coach. "He's our captain. He's a leader. The only thing is he won't be on the ice."
Garcia says his goal is to get back on the ice this season in time for the playoffs.
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