Chill defenseman Curtis Simonson grew up in northern Minnesota. There's not much he loves more than hockey.
"It's like the other half of my life really," Simonson said. "Other than hunting and fishing and all the outdoor stuff, the other half basically is just hockey."
He's taken his fair share of hits and had his fair share of injuries. But none of them can compare to the injury he suffered in October.
"Basically, I just couldn't move my legs. They were kind of numb. I could stand on them but I couldn't really move them very well."
"All I remember is him laying on the floor back by the locker room and just screaming in pain," Chill Head Coach AJ Degenhardt said.
Simonson fractured his lower vertebrae. Doctors say he came millimeters from been paralyzed.
"It was kind of scary to hear when they first told me what it was," said Simonson. "Just kind of stayed positive and battled through it and waited."
Hockey players are tough, and Simonson didn't wait long. He was back on the ice Dec. 13. He scored the game-winning goal.
"It was kind of a big relief really," he said. "Stepping back on and stuff, it's just, I had been wanting to get back for so long and finally on Friday when I got the chance, it felt great."
"Anytime a kid has a sport that they love and you never know if it's going to be done for them or he's going to be back, it's obviously an exciting thing that the kid gets another opportunity," Degenhardt said.
"Just looking back over the years, very appreciative of getting the chance to play," Simonson said. "Not everyone gets the chance to play hockey. It's one of those sports where it's awesome to be a part of."
The Chill head to Brookings this weekend then return home Friday, Dec. 27.