Jonathon Brodie – Recorder&Times
The past two-and-half months were never easy for Mathieu Halle.
This season was supposed to be his breakout year in the CCHL. He started getting noticed late last season on the Brockville Braves and earned more and more opportunities, seemingly taking advantage each time he got a chance.
This season he was expecting to be penciled into a top-six role, an opportunity going his way right from the start.
Yet, here the 17-year-old was a couple of weeks into his second CCHL season sitting in the Memorial Centre stands and watching his Braves play.
He had no control over his fate in the situation. He couldn’t rehabilitate an injury or work harder to build up his skill to earn his way back into the lineup. In fact, he was specifically advised not to do those things.
All Halle could do was sit, wait and hope for the best.
“It was hard to sit and watch,” said Halle. “I wanted to help out, but there was nothing I could do.”
Near the beginning of this season Halle took a team physical where a heart murmur was discovered. He went for further testing where it was found that the outer wall of his heart had thickened and doctors, “wanted to make sure nothing crazy was going to come from that,” said Halle, his 2017-18 season halting just four games in.
“It was more precaution than anything,” he added.
Braves captain Andrew Jarvis kept in contact with Halle constantly, even when the sophomore forward returned home to Kingston while he waited his time until doctors approved him to get back to what he does best. It was important he stayed in contact with his teammates, Halle said, so he didn’t lose much of the chemistry he already built with them.
Halle kept telling Jarvis he would be back on the ice with the team by early December and, “It was late November and he was back,” the Braves captain said.
Halle got back on the ice for the first time on Nov. 20. He admitted it was tough, his legs not as strong as he remembered them when he last stepped on the ice on Sept. 8. Braves coach Jesse Winchester didn’t let up on him in his first practice back and bag-skated him, the bench boss taking part in it beside Halle the whole way through the workload.
“That was nice,” Halle said about Winchester doing the bag skate with him. “I owe a lot to him for getting me back into shape quickly.”
The next day after that first practice, Halle dressed for his first game back. In the four games he’s played since his return he’s already picked up two goals – one of them a big one that tied the game 2-2 against the Hawkesbury Hawks on the road last Sunday on way to the Braves winning 6-2.
This is, however, Halle when he’s not at his best.
Halle isn’t in the exact tip-top shape he wants to be in physically right now, but if there’s anything the Braves past four games have shown it’s that he has a solid hockey IQ and a knack for knowing where he needs to be.
He’s already moved up a line in his short time back.
Everyone finds something different that they like about Halle’s hockey skill.
Jarvis described the forward as, “such a good locker room kid.” The type of player always smiling, said Jarvis and as those words came out of his mouth he looked over to Halle tripping over the blueline and laughing with teammates at practice. Winchester commented on the big shot blocks Halle’s done since returning to the lineup.
It seems like these days he has more heart than ever.
“Coming back I think I work a lot harder than I did before because I have to work my way back up. I’m not going to just be given what I had before,” Halle said. “You look at it and you think that you have to work a lot harder for things now and maybe in a way it was a good thing that it happened.”
Original Story at Recorder.ca