Nesbitt keeps smiling

SHANE ROSS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

Don't blame 67's coach Brian Kilrea if he tries to knock out a few more of Thomas Nesbitt's teeth.

The 18-year-old right-winger lost his two front pearly whites and half of two bottom teeth in the first period of a game last Friday night. But he hopped right back on the ice and played what Kilrea describes as his two best games since joining the club three years ago.

"He was a star on Friday and was our best forward on Monday in Belleville," said Kilrea.

"Whatever it did, he just came back more determined."

Kilrea hopes that determination continues tonight at 7:30 p.m. when the 67's host the CHL's top-ranked team, the Windsor Spitfires.

Nesbitt, though, hopes it doesn't have to come down to losing more teeth. After all, this is the second time he's lost his two front ones.

They were first knocked out when he was 15, playing midget hockey for the Ottawa Valley Titans, one on a punch to the face -- "even though I was wearing a cage and mouthguard," he said -- and the other when he took an elbow to the head.

He relived that experience last Friday when he was hit in the mouth with the puck.

"All four (teeth) landed on the ice; they managed to grab one of them (and) put it back in my mouth 10 minutes later, so I only have one missing right now," he said.

"I wasn't in too much pain, mostly shock."

Nesbitt's parents, who live in Stittsville, were at the game, and right after the incident his mother approached the team bench to see if her son was okay.

"Mom knew it was something with my teeth, and once she found out it was just my mouth, she was fine," Nesbitt said.

She also knew her son was okay when he was back on the ice a few shifts later, and assisted on a short-handed goal in the third period.

"When I came off, it was just the doctor there, not the dentist, so I asked if I was okay to go and she said yeah."

"She couldn't do anything with my teeth, so I went right back out," Nesbitt said.

His girlfriend, Brooke, will have to get used to his toothless smile again. They were together when he lost his teeth the first time, too.

"She laughs at me," Nesbitt said. "She keeps it light. She knows teeth will come and go."

Right now, only one's gone. He had the tiny remainder of the missing front tooth pulled yesterday and will play tonight with 10 stitches in his mouth.

Kilrea said he will keep Nesbitt, who has seven points in 10 games for the 67's, on a line with Cody Lindsay and Thomas Kiriakou against the Spitfires, who are off to an impressive start to the season at 9-1.

"He's always been a good skater, but now he's doing things with the puck that we expected him to do before," Kilrea said. "He's handling it, making good plays. beating guys, getting good shots, becoming a complete hockey player."

The only thing missing right now is a front tooth.


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