Wray gets mind back into game

DARREN FRIESEN -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:52 AM ET

Recovering from injury involved more than just rest, relaxation and rehab.

Once cleared to return, regaining that psychology confidence can be tougher than healing even the deepest wounds.

Just ask Taylor Wray of the Calgary Roughnecks.

After missing almost two months at the beg-inning of the season due to a badly broken ankle, the 2004 rookie of the year and co-winner of the defender of the year award is just now recapturing his form.

"The biggest thing when coming back from an injury is mentally getting through it," said Wray, who's expected to play a big role in tonight's West final game against the Arizona Sting (Saddledome, 8 p.m.).

"When you come back, you're always a little nervous and can't quite cut as hard as you used to.

"But as the season progressed, I felt like I got more and more comfortable. I definitely feel like I'm back to my old self."

Good thing, too, because the 6-ft. 2-in. 230-lb. Rigger will have his hands full tonight trying to stop the Sting's big forwards.

Led by the league's second leading sniper, Dan Dawson, Arizona displayed its offensive firepower by beating the Colorado Mammoth 16-13 in the Western semifinal last weekend.

Dawson, Craig Conn and Lindsay Plunkett combined for 12 of the 16 markers in Arizona's first franchise playoff victory. At 6 ft. 5 in. and 218 lb., Dawson is notorious for taking advantage of smaller defenders, such as Wray.

"He's got such long range when he's around the goal," said Wray. "He can reach over the smaller guys or step around them. So we'll be trying to get some of our bigger players on him every opportunity and see if we can limit the number of times he touches the ball and make it tough for him whenever he has the ball."

Roughnecks head coach Chris Hall knows his superstar defender hasn't been himself all season but admits he has no worries about putting Wray out there in the big situations.

"The last two games, he is, if not at 100 percent, certainly approaching it," said Hall.

"It has taken him some time to come back after the injury.

"I think physically he was probably fine but I think psychologically it's hard to deal with things sometimes after such a serious injury."


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