Drew Nichol has taken punches a whole lot harder than the one he took from Brandon Wheat Kings defenceman Jordan Hale.
But the punch that was more of a jab caught Nichol on the chin, and he has been sidelined with a concussion ever since.
BACK AT PRACTICE
Yesterday, Nichol practised for the first time since being injured Oct. 13 against the Brandon Wheat Kings.
"Never have I ever missed as many games as I did with this concussion," said Nichol.
"The difference with this one is that I was getting all the big symptoms. I was getting continuous headaches. I was sensitive to light. It was definitely difficult to deal with."
Nichol isn't afraid to drop the gloves. He led the Oil Kings in fighting majors last season and he can throw his fair share of hay-makers.
But what looked like a harmless punch knocked Nichol out of the lineup for 13 games.
After just one practice, Nichol won't be in the lineup tonight when the Oil Kings face Medicine Hat, but he's expected to get back in the lineup this weekend when the Oil Kings travel to Kootenay and Lethbridge.
"I feel like I am ready to play and contribute," said Nichol.
"I'll talk it over with the coaches; hopefully I won't have to beg to get back in the lineup."
The Oil Kings missed his physical presence while he was out of the lineup and they went 4-7-0-2 during his absence.
The 19-year-old former Bonnyville Pontiacs defenceman has nursed various injuries during his junior career. But never has he experienced a concussion to this extent.
He couldn't exercise or even do something as simple as watch TV.
"I basically couldn't even think too hard," smiled Nichol.
PEARSON STEPS UP
In Nichol's absence, it gave 17-year-old rookie defenceman Jesse Pearson an increased role.
"It was nice to see a guy like Jesse come in and eat up minutes and play a bigger role," added Nichol.
The Oil Kings have arguably the youngest and most inexperienced defence in the WHL, and it shows some nights. They've given up 101 goals, the most in the WHL this season.
Not only did they have to deal with Nichol being out of the lineup, but Adrian Van de Mosselaer missed nine games with a rib injury.
He, returned on the Oil Kings recent five-game road trip.
"It's going to be nice to have us both back there, because we do have a young defence and hopefully we can help stabilize it," said Nichol.
JUST NOTES: The Oil Kings released Braeden Adamyk last week.
Adamyk injured his jaw and didn't play a game this season. Last season, Adamyk recorded 10 points (4g, 6a) in 66 games.