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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Comeback Kid Sean Degnan

When Sean Degnan was sidelined much of last season he clearly recalled his assistant coach Mike Vogel telling him he would do something special this season. Vogel’s words rang truer than Degnan could have ever imagined.

Degnan, a Kenmore West senior, scored the game-winner as the Blue Devils upset Hamburg 1-0 in the Section VI Small School semifinals that took pace at HarborCenter on Feb.22.

The victory launched the Blue Devils into tonight’s championship game against West Seneca East (8:30) which will cap off the WNY Varsity Federation Hockey’s Super Monday triple header at KeyBank Center.

“It’s been our goal all year to get here at least,” Degnan said. “We’re not done yet. We want to keep pushing and hopefully get to states.”

Scoring the goal that lifted his team into it’s first small school championship game produced a fitting moment in the sun for Degnan who could only sit and watch most of last season.

On Dec.11, 2015 Degnan, a forward, suffered a lacerated spleen in Ken-West’s 2-0 win over Lockport. “After it happened I had sharp, shooting pain in my left side,” Degnan said of the collision that triggered the injury.

Degnan said that he tried to take another shift, but when he went back onto the ice he began to feel dizzy. Degnan went to the hospital that night for tests.

“It hurt pretty bad, but it didn’t really start hurting a lot until later that night,” he said.

Degnan was very lucky in the sense that he was narrowly able to avoid surgery, but the injury did sideline him for two months. While there certainly is never an ideal time to miss time, the timing on this was especially upsetting for Degnan. As a varsity rookie he was still in the process of feeling his way through the game at the varsity level. Getting knocked out of action, naturally, would have any young player worry about getting lost in the shuffle.

“It was really, really tough because we had a pretty good team last year, but it’s always tough when you’re out with an injury,” Degnan said. “Going to the game and wishing you could be out there helping the team. You just gotta be strong and know you’ll get back out there.”

Degnan did eventually return in early February and was able to get four games in-including playoff games against Lewiston-Porter and Kenmore East before the Blue Devils season came to a close.

“We didn’t really know what we were going to get out of him because it was his first year on varsity,” Ken-West coach Rob Roszak said.

“He was a good JV player, but he wasn’t one of the top players on the team. He was a good, solid JV player. I think it really showed what he could be as a player when he came back from his injury. He played the last couple games including the sectional games against Lew-Port and Ken-East.”

“He worked his butt off to get back to where he was,” Vogel said. “After the injury he wasn’t able to workout. He wasn’t able to do his cardio. He came back this year. He’s a captain. He’s just been working very hard. He always asks me every single practice coach what can I work on? Those are the types of guys you really want on the team. He has such a passion. It’s incredible.”

If Degnan were an established veteran he could have waited on the sidelines with some peace of mind in knowing that once cleared to play he would have a fair chance to win back his playing time. But Degnan said that thanks to Vogel, his coach on JV, he was able to put his mind at ease about his place on the team and not rush back too soon.

“Part of me kinda felt like I could have lost my opportunity, but luckily the assistant coaches Mike Vogel, he was my coach on JV. I knew that he knew what I could do and knew that I could help the team.”

Degnan said Vogel was a big part of getting him through the mental grind of the lost time. Vogel assured Degnan that he would be a part of the team in 2016-17. Vogel’s words were true as Degnan was third on the team in scoring.

Lamenting how he still can’t believe that they cut Degnan from JV a few years ago, Vogel said that when you take stock of all that Sean Degnan has done this season you can’t help but be happy for him. Because you know how hard he has worked for it.

“He’s up here. He’s got a captaincy. He’s playing for a sectional championship,” Vogel said. “That makes me smile for him, and everyone else that’s on the team. It’s absolutely incredible. I’m so happy for him.”

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