Iron man: How Austin Bostock survived entire season with one shoulder

His shoulder was torn in pieces.

When Austin Bostock hit the ice against CSCHL rival Robert Morris on Feb. 4, 2012, he was looking to add a couple goals to his team-leading point total, but not for a year and a half’s worth of pain.

Early in the first period, Bostock took a heavy hit from a Robert Morris defender and was later diagnosed with a separated shoulder that left him injured and watching from the bench for the rest of the season.

What he didn’t know was that he had torn his rotator cuff, the group of muscles and tendons pivotal to a shoulder’s ability to move.

Yet, Bostock played on.

He rehabbed and trained over that summer and, despite still being injured, the team’s captain didn’t miss a game last season, finishing as the team’s second-highest goal scorer (18) and third highest in both assists (21) and total points (39).

“I got a cortisone shot in January and that kind of got me through the end of the season,” Bostock said. “January was when the pain started to flair up again, and I made it to the end of the season, but I couldn’t make it to the end of my career without having the surgery.”

Following the team’s early exit in the quarterfinals of last year’s ACHA national tournament, Bostock finally went to Brian Forsythe for a second opinion at Midwest Orthopedics at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

After talking with his family and Illini head coach Nick Fabbrini in March, Bostock decided to go in for surgery.

“His doctors gave him an option to get another shot or having surgery,” Fabbrini said. “The shot wasn’t guaranteed to really do anything. If anything, it was more of a temporary fix rather than a permanent one, so we talked over it and agreed that it would be better for him to have the surgery right after the season ended, that way he could get back the first or second weekend rather than risking it.”

Since his surgery three months ago, Bostock has gone to physical therapy three times a week.

“It’s been a long process for sure,” Bostock said. “A very long, long recovery. They basically rebuilt my rotator cuff.”

But now, the senior has his sights set on the future and said he wants to return to the ice sometime in mid-October, a timeline doctors described as a “lofty goal.”

“The surgery went well, but after talking with Coach Fabbrini, we knew that I was going to be missing the first part of the season,” Bostock said. “It’s a bummer because it’s my senior year, but hopefully I’ll be back sooner than later.”

Fabbrini said he expects his captain to be out for at least the first three weeks of the season, missing both home series against SIU-Edwardsville and Michigan State at the end of September.

While Fabbrini said that he will miss having the star senior in the lineup, he is confident that other players will step up to take a leadership role.

“Obviously, we want him back as quickly as possible, but I think with a lot of new guys coming in and a lot of the older guys stepping up, we’re going to be OK without him for a couple weeks,” Fabbrini said.

With Bostock out for weeks, Fabbrini said he will be looking to last year’s goal leader John Olen to continue his strong level of play. Olen scored 25 goals his freshman year.

“I’m trying to make an impact again,” Olen said. “We did really well last season, and I only expect better things from this team this year.”

Bostock may not be able to contribute on the ice, but the senior makes sure his leadership is still present.

Standing in the locker room, fully padded and wearing a red jersey signifying that “no contact” should be made with him, he still gets ready to take the ice at practice to work on his game and to help the young team around him.

“I think we got a lot of good talent this year,” Bostock said. “I don’t even think I’ll be missed much … at least I hope I’m not!”

Sean can be reached at [email protected] and @Neumannthehuman.