By Chris Langrill
The Idaho Statesman
BOISE, Idaho — It’s amazing the damage a 3-inch disc of vulcanized rubber can do to a person.
For evidence of that, one need look no further than Idaho Steelheads defenseman Colin Peters.
Peters had a hockey puck deflect off his stick and into his face during the Steelheads’ Game 5 victory over the Alaska Aces in the National Conference finals on May 15.
The blow knocked out three of his teeth, and damaged a few others.
But one week, five root canals and 35 stitches later, Peters said he’s ready to return to the ice Wednesday, when the Steelheads play Game 1 of the Kelly Cup Finals against the Dayton Bombers.
“If Coach is willing to play me, I’m good to go,” the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Peters said. “He’ll play Wednesday night. He’s ready to go,” Steelheads coach Derek Laxdal said. “You pick up your skates, you put your mask on and you go again.”
Laxdal might sound a little nonchalant about the injury, but it’s not like he can’t relate to Peters. Laxdal lost three teeth while playing hockey when he was 14 years old.
“I’ve got veneers and bridges and I’ve got fake teeth,” Laxdal said.
Peters’ injury happened during the first period of the game, and during the next intermission Qwest Arena officials searched the ice for his missing teeth.
“They did find them all, which is amazing,” Peters said. “… And they were all whole. None of them were broken, and they put them back in that night.”
The Steelheads’ team dentist, Lynn Blaisdell, had to improvise in the locker room a little bit, but he hopes that the three teeth will take root, so to speak.
Blaisdell worked with team doctor Robert Walker to sew up the injury.
“The worst part about it was getting stitched up in the room,” Peters said. “It’s pretty gross, but we didn’t have any suction, so the blood would fill up in my mouth. Every few minutes, I would have to lean over and spit out a lot of blood.”
Peters, who wasn’t wearing a mouth guard, will be wearing one Wednesday, along with a cage mask like the one he wore in college at St. Cloud State.
Peters isn’t the only Steelheads player to have spent some time in a dentist’s chair. Rookie goalie John Daigneau broke a tooth in a fight in Phoenix this season. Forward B.J. Crombeen lost a tooth in a fight with former Steelhead David Cornacchia last season while he was playing in the AHL for Iowa and Cornacchia was with San Antonio.
Veteran Scott Burt was honored with a bobblehead a few years ago.
“It’s pretty realistic, missing tooth and all,” Burt said in February 2004.
Laxdal played hockey for almost two decades and said not many of his contemporaries can flash a smile that shows all of his original teeth.
“If you’re the type of player who didn’t go into the traffic areas, you might have a full set of teeth,” Laxdal said. “But if you’re one of those guys who stuck your nose in it and got dirty, you probably wouldn’t have a full set of Chiclets.”