BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A year ago, in January of 2017, Niagara’s Derian Plouffe was an observer in the stands, unable to lace up his skates and hit the ice.
Just two months earlier during a November practice in 2016 Plouffe was competing with his team.
“I remember it being a long practice,” he said. “I was behind the net — in the in front of the net doing a net front battle I should say. Passed out to my teammate and then I was waking up on the ice about seconds later about 30 second later. The trainer was asking me questions, ‘do you know where you are.’ I had a little bit of blood coming out of my head. I still wasn’t sure what was going on.”
Plouffe was struck by a puck, suffering a skull fracture and brain bleed. His promising junior season was over.
“My concern was when I could play hockey next,” he added.
It’d be a long road to recovery. Plouffe spent several days in the hospital and weeks in a wheel chair before finally being cleared this past summer, heading into his senior season to resume playing.
“To go through what he’s been through, to show up and have no idea if you came and watched him, that’s toughness,” Head Coach Jason Lammers said. “True toughness is getting knocked down and being will to get back up and that’s what he’s done.”
Now healthy, Plouffe is back to old self.
He leads the Purple Eagles with 15 goals and 30 points, helped guide them to as a high as 20th in the national rankings and and is now a Hobey Baker Award nominee.
“It was tough for sure. We had a lot of injuries last year so it was tough sitting in the stands and now we’re here” he said. “With everything in life, don’t take it for granted.”
“It’s a real credit to him because a lot of guys would be scared. Not Derian,” Lammers added. “He’s been a man. He’s uber-competitive.”
You can vote for Plouffe for the Hobey Baker Award by clicking here: 2018 Hobey Baker Award Voting