They were supposed to have two weeks to heal.
But one day before their first CCHA playoff game, the Wolverines are now saddled with two potentially serious injuries.
With freshmen Scooter Vaughan and Matt Rust possibly out for this weekend’s quarterfinal series against Nebraska-Omaha, Michigan has been forced to shuffle its lineup.
Vaughan returned to Yost Ice Arena yesterday afternoon for the first time since undergoing a six-hour surgery Monday to repair a broken jaw he suffered Thursday night.
The freshman defenseman said he thinks he might have taken an elbow to his mouth while wrestling with a teammate off the ice – but still isn’t sure what caused the injury.
“It wasn’t anything major,” Vaughan said. “I didn’t even realize what had happened. My jaw kind of hurt, (but) I didn’t really think much of it until I woke up the next morning and it was a little tender to the touch. I was like, ‘Oh, it’ll go down in a couple days,’ but it just kept getting worse and worse.”
Vaughan practiced Friday and Saturday with a slightly swollen jaw before informing coach Red Berenson of the pain. Trainer Rick Bancroft scheduled a 10 a.m. appointment Monday at the School of Dentistry, and by 2 p.m., Vaughan was in surgery.
After having four titanium plates inserted into his jaw, Vaughan’s face was noticeably swollen. He was released from the hospital yesterday, the same day his mother flew to Ann Arbor from his Placentia, Calif., hometown. He has been on a liquid diet since the surgery, but should be cleared to eat mashed potatoes and other soft foods after a doctor’s appointment today.
Vaughan said his pain has subsided and he hopes to skate in this afternoon’s practice.
“Just getting off these meds, coming down from that, I feel a lot better,” he said. “I’m just hopefully getting my legs back under me, getting in shape and just getting ready for this weekend.”
Berenson wasn’t optimistic about Vaughan’s chances to play against Nebraska-Omaha. Michigan will likely fill the hole on defense with either junior Danny Fardig, who has played just two games on the blue line in three years but has played in 27 of the team’s 36 games on offense, or walk-on sophomore defenseman Eric Elmblad, who has yet to see game action.
“We’ve got to let this thing settle down,” Berenson said. “I’m not forcing (Vaughan) back in the lineup, that’s for sure.”
Rust’s status for the rest of the week is also uncertain. The forward suffered a possible knee injury in practice yesterday afternoon after banging knees with defenseman Eric Elmblad during a drill. Berenson said Rust’s knee would be reexamined after swelling decreased and the team will evaluate his status today.
If Rust is scratched this weekend, freshman Carl Hagelin could potentially take over at center. When Michigan played the Mavericks in Omaha, Hagelin played center in the Friday night game. Berenson said junior Tim Miller could also replace Rust for the weekend if needed.
Despite possibly losing two of its most talented freshmen this weekend, Michigan will almost certainly have its second-leading scorer back on the ice. Senior Chad Kolarik, who has been sidelined since suffering a hamstring injury against Lake Superior State Feb. 16, is “99-percent sure” he’ll play in Friday’s game. He resumed skating with the team last Tuesday.
“I’m just getting my hands back, getting my endurance back,” he said yesterday. “I’m feeling a lot better today. I was pretty excited out there, having a good time and joking around.”
Note: Kolarik and captain Kevin Porter were both named to the CCHA All-Conference First Team announced yesterday. The two finished 1-2 in the league in points, and Porter was the only first-team unanimous selection. Defenseman Mark Mitera made the second team and goalie Billy Sauer earned Honorable Mention.