Comets Tales: Wacey Hamilton is Back Healthy
by Don LaibleApr 3, 2015
With recently besting Oklahoma City, Rockford, and Rochester, the Utica Comets are riding a franchise best eight-game winning streak. Amongst all the excitement, forward Wacey Hamilton was ecstatic to have his name in the line-up for two of those contests.
At 11:03 in Friday’s match against the visiting Barons, Hamilton put the puck past an out-stretched Laurent Brossoit for his fifth goal of this season. In the team’s 66th game, for Hamilton, collecting the team’s fourth and final goal on the evening in The AUD was huge.
March 27, regardless of where the game took place, was the first time since Jan. 3 that hockey fans were able to see Hamilton play. Thirty-one games were missed due to a lower-body injury – a broken bone in his right foot – as Hamilton said.
Minutes after congratulating teammates for a 4-2 effort over the IceHogs, Hamilton, a scratch for the game, was eager to remind himself and others of his long road to Utica.
“I drove alone from Calgary to Utica, 39-40 hours,” Hamilton said. “You have a lot of time to think and you have many conversations with yourself. Coming here was definitely eye-opening. I did not have a contract.”
For Hamilton, his road to Utica began playing for the Medicine Hat Tigers. During his first three seasons with the Tigers, Willie Desjardins was his coach, the one and the same bench boss guiding the Vancouver Canucks.
“Willie and I have always gotten along,” Hamilton said. “We keep tabs on each other. I’m happy he (Desjardins) got the job in Vancouver.”
Looking back on a season that continues to pay dividends for the Comets, Hamilton described uncertainty he experienced this past summer. Having played the past three seasons for Binghamton, Hamilton wasn’t offered a new deal by the Ottawa Senators. Along with his agent, Hamilton went looking for opportunities elsewhere.
“Both (Desjardins and Comets’ coach Travis Green) went to bat for me,” Hamilton said about accepting a tryout in Utica last September. “It was an easy decision to make.”
One other note of interest surrounding Hamilton’s arrival to the Comets – his first name. What’s the origin behind Wacey?
“My parents have black angus cattle,” Hamilton said. “When they were at the Calgary Stampede rodeo, my parents watched the winning bull rider Wacey Cathey. They liked the name, and decided to go with it.”
As part of a successful line at the start of the season with Brendan Gaunce and Carter Bancks, Hamilton is hoping to get back to contributing on the same level – consistently.
“I want to play every night,” Hamilton said. “I expect to play every night. For now, I’ll keep working hard, and we’ll see where it goes.” Hamilton was a teammate with fellow Comet Hunter Shinkaruk for one season in Medicine Hat.
As his teammates hurried to shower and make their way back to the ice to auction off game-worn military-design jerseys, Hamilton wasn’t anxious to leave. It’s easy to sense that Hamilton is stimulated by just being on the active roster and being part of team functions.
He remembers being on “his own,” not traveling with the guys, not skating, and not being part of the everyday camaraderie. However, to keep his spirits high, Hamilton drew from some experience in long-term injury issues.
“Two years ago with Binghamton, I had a concussion that put me out for four months,” Hamilton said. “That helped me a lot with this (foot injury). It was a grind. I wanted to keep my spirits up, and stay in shape.”
One would think after experiencing a lengthy absence from work, Hamilton could rattle off the day in which he became cast-free again. But, he can’t.
The end of February or early March was the best that Hamilton offered. He recalled, however, three weeks of “hard rehab” once he was cast-free. Getting his full range of motion back in his right foot was critical. Before lacing up his skates to face Oklahoma City, Hamilton said that he knew all week that he would ease back into the Comets’ line-up.
“I wasn’t sure that I would be playing Friday night until that morning’s skate,” Hamilton said.
Twenty-four hours after having game action, Hamilton critiqued his performance.
“I didn’t feel like I lost a step; my pace, my timing, were pretty good,” he said. “I worked hard in the gym, and it paid off.”