Sam Jardine couldn't believe what had happened.
In his second game back last Saturday after suffering a severe forearm gash on Nov. 10 the highly touted Ohio State defenseman was whacked on the left arm by a Ferris State player in the same spot.
"I took a slash directly on it, just my luck," he said.
Would the backward J scar reopen? Would his arm go numb?
Fortunately, neither situation occurred and he went about his business, save for deciding to wear a slash guard over the vulnerable spot just above the top of the glove.
"Maybe that helps a little bit knowing that it might be the worst thing to happen to it," Jardine said of the blow.
The Buckeyes can use Jardine's talent, especially on the power play, to jump start an offense that is averaging 1.9 goals per game.
If not for a stout defense - their 2.05 goals allowed is seventh in the NCAA - the Buckeyes would be in trouble.
But thanks the player buying into the team defense concept and the 1.44 GAA for senior goalie Brady Hjelle - the best in the country - OSU is in every game.
"We're not relying on Brady," coach Mark Osiecki said. "Our kids have played extremely well in front of him. When it comes time to rely on him he's right there and makes the saves."
"The last two of practice have probably been the most competitive we had," Osiecki said on Wednesday. "It went to a different level the last two days. Players are counting numbers and they are understand they are competing."
How well that pays off will be determined Friday and Saturday in Marquette, MI., when OSU ( 8-9-5 overall and fourth in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association with a 7-4-3-1 record) faces Northern Michigan (9-10-4, 3-9-4-1).
OSU swept the last-place team in a series in Columbus on Nov. 16-17.
Those were the first games Jardine missed after a fluke injury when he was cut by the blade of a skate.
It was feared at first he had severed some tendons, possibly putting his career in jeopardy. However, he suffered lacerations to the tendons but no nerve damage.
Jardine, a sixth round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2011 NHL draft, is happy to be playing again after being sidelined a dozen games.
"It gives you a different perspective on the game," Jardine said. "It was micro inches away from grabbing an artery, then you're toast.
"I've always been a rink rat to begin with. I feel fortunate, even more so, to come to the rink every day and work and to be able to have this opportunity.
"It's weak," he said of the forearm. "Obviously it cut some of the muscle as well. It's going to be a lengthy rehab process but as far as mobility and being able to pass and shoot and things like that, it's not holding me back too much."
His first game back vs. Ferris State was better than the second when some of the adrenalin subsided.
"He played pretty well on Friday," Osiecki said. "Saturday it looked like it caught up to him, not that he played poorly by any means, (that's) expected being out that many games and playing back to back."
The series vs. Northern Michigan is a milepost of sorts. After the Buckeyes return from the 11-hour bus ride to the Upper Peninsula they will have eight of the next 10 games in Value City Arena, where they have not played since Dec. 15.