It was an innocent collision during a pregame skate prior to the Union women’s hockey team’s game against Dartmouth on Nov. 30.
But for junior defenseman Meagan Beck, the collision may prove to be the end of her career.
Beck suffered a concussion, her third in college and sixth of her hockey career, from the collision. The Niskayuna native has decided to sit out the remainder of this season.
“It’s been six weeks, and I’ve kind of gotten over the everyday headaches,” said Beck, who was the Dutchwomen’s co-most valuable player last season, and was the team rookie of the year in 2005-06. “But I’m having trouble reading, and trouble focusing.
“Classes [started Monday], so that will be a good testing point to see where I really am, how my focus and concentration is.”
Beck and two other players were involved in the collision.
“Before games, we go on the ice at noon and do a pregame skate, just helmets and gloves,” Beck said. “We go through our plays and our systems. Me and one of my teammates both had our heads down in the warmup. One other teammate [skated in], and we all just ran into each other. My head is so sensitive from past concussions that one little hit in the wrong spot did something to my head that it wouldn’t do normally to other people. It was just an unlucky hit in practice.”
Union coach Claudia Asano is disappointed to lose Beck.
“It’s sad,” Asano said. “It definitely affects our team, but we’ve had a lot people in and out of the lineup, so I think we are adjusting. But [Beck’s] a junior and a leader, and it’s not easy to be missing that in the lineup.”
Beck, who played at the Berkshire School prior to attending Union, had three doctor appointments scheduled for this week. She will have tests to determine if she is at risk of suffering more concussions if she continues to play. If the results tell her that it would be too risky to play again, then the 20-year-old Beck will hang up her skates.
“Before, we were kind of doing overall testing,” Beck said. “Now, we’re kind of getting down to the nitty gritty, and trying to figure out what’s really wrong.”
But it is getting scary for Beck. While she loves playing hockey, she realizes that being healthy is more important.
“I’ve never had any side effects after one week with any previous concussion, but I don’t know if I never fully recovered from them, so it’s easy to get them again,” Beck said. “But this one’s been much different than the past ones, based on recovery time and how I felt. It fluctuates from school to school, but a lot of training staffs and doctors don’t let you play after about five or six [weeks]. We’re getting up to the point where the doctors are going to have to decide what’s best for me in the long run.”
The Union and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute men’s teams each received a player commitment for next season this week.
Defenseman Nolan Julseth-White of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League’s Langley Chiefs will join the Dutchmen.
The 19-year-old Julseth-White, who has missed half of the Chiefs’ 42 games this season because of a hip injury, has seven goals and 15 assists with 43 penalty minutes. Last season, he had 16 goals and 36 assists with 105 penalty minutes in 59 games. He was third on the team in scoring. Ten of his goals came on the power play. Julseth-White is the team captain.
“Union was the right fit for me,” Julseth-White said in a statement. “Coach [Nate] Leaman is a great leader, and I know going to such a great school, I will benefit both scholastically and academically.”
Julseth-White is the fourth player this year to commit to Union from the BCJHL. The others are from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks — forwards Randy Hanagan, Ronnie Smith and Kelly Zajac. Union has seven recruits overall.
On Wednesday, the Engineers got a commitment from right wing Jordan Watts of the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League’s Aurora Tigers.
Watts, 18, is tied for fourth on the team in scoring with 12 goals and 22 assists in 28 games. Last season, Watts had 11 goals and 12 assists in 50 games for the Tigers.
RPI and Union will be on TV this weekend on Time Warner Cable channel 3.
The Engineers’ game against Cornell is on tonight at 7. John Hennessy will call the play-by-play, with former RPI forward Kevin Broad providing the analysis.
The Dutchmen’s matchup against the Big Red is on at 7 p.m. Saturday. Matt DuBrey, who calls the radio play-by-play on WRUC-FM (89.7), slides over to handle the TV duties. Former RPI coach Dan Fridgen returns for his second season as the analyst.
Here’s a look at how college hockey players from the Capital Region did over the past week.
u Boston University senior forward Pete MacArthur (Clifton Park) had an assist in last Saturday’s 2-2 tie with Vermont.
u St. Lawrence sophomore forward Tara Akstull (Clifton Park) picked up an assist in the Saints’ 5-2 loss to Boston College last Friday.
ECAC Hockey’s three-year reign as Commissioners’ Cup champion is over.
The WCHA has clinched at least a share of the Cup. The league has a 6-1-1 record in its series of non-league games. The WCHA games has two games left — Minnesota-Duluth visits UMass-Lowell (Hockey East) on Jan. 26, and Colorado College hosts defending ECACH tournament-champion Clarkson on Feb. 2.
The WCHA could be caught by Hockey East (4-3-1), which has two games left, and College Hockey America (3-3-1), which has three games remaining. The CCHA is second with a 4-3-2 record, but it has only one game left.
The ECACH, which has been the Cup champion since the series began in 2004-05, is in fifth place at 2-5-1. Union has earned the league three points — last Saturday’s 3-2 win over Army (Atlantic Hockey), and a 1-1 tie against Northeastern (Hockey East) on Dec. 8.
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