It was lonely.
“It was tough the first couple of months, just coming in and doing the same thing everyday,” University of Denver senior Tariq Hammond said.
It was isolated.
“You gotta realize there’s a purpose to it, right,” Hammond said.
The 6'1" defenseman was supposed to be a staple on the Pioneers' blue line this season, and he will be. But he spent the majority of the first part of the year in the trainer's room. Hammond has been recovering and rehabbing, sometimes six hours a day, for the past seven months.
“Being out, you have to treat your body a different way, "Hammond told 9NEWS. "You have to do the extra stuff. You have to be away from the team. You have to to do you own thing where hockey is such a team sport that it can be frustrating at times."
Hammond was severely injured during the third period of April's National Championship game.
"I broke my talus bone, fractured it in 4 or 5 places,” Hammond said.
His ankle was also dislocated. It was quite a moment when Hammond was able to come back on to the ice for the celebration, but a little more than a week later he had surgery.
“(The bone) was like a big puzzle, took out all the pieces and put my ankle in the right spot,” Hammond said.
Rehabilitation started, and the hope was being ready for the start of the season, but unfortunately Tariq needed a follow-up surgery in July.
“Going through that again, knowing that you have to walk in to a hospital and come out in a wheel chair with a boot and a cast or whatever. It’s pretty demoralizing,” Hammond said.
Denver’s captain set up shop, once again, in the trainer’s room. After a long seven months, he got to suit up against North Dakota in mid-November.
“I called my parents and told them this might be the week I’m back and it was pretty exciting," Hammond said. "Obviously a lot of nerves but excitement that’s for sure.”
Now, back on the ice with his teammates, celebrating a National Championship is again on his mind.
"I’ve seen that, I’ve seen our team do it," Hammond said.
This time he would like to be on the ice for the final horn, instead of on crutches.