View Full Version : Great news for the Pats

12-09-2005, 02:06 PM
I liked the kid in training camp. A big kid with more skill than Reinhardt and Chapman (most people I talk to say more skill than the two combined). In my opinion, the Pats have the best young defense group in the league. With Pyett, Shira, Ross, MacDermott, Delahay, and Fraipont, (all 16 and 17 year olds) the Pats look very strong on the back end. Now to factor in Tuebert and Cotterill, two 15 year olds ...

Fraipont gets good news

Greg Harder, Leader-Post
Published: Thursday, December 08, 2005

Spencer Fraipont has received some good news on his bad back.

The Regina Pats defenceman was originally told he needed to go under the knife for season-ending surgery due to a damaged disc in his back -- a condition called spondylolisthesis.

However, the diagnosis of the injury's severity may have been premature.

"The surgeon that I saw, he changed his mind," Fraipont said Wednesday from his home in Kelowna. "Then I saw two or three surgeons here and they said, 'Don't get surgery. Try to avoid it. Try the conservative (treatment) first.'

"You would only do surgery to relieve the pain and my pain is not that bad."

Fraipont has already started rehabilitation for his back problem, which limited the 17-year-old rookie to just three WHL games this season. The main objective of his rehab is to strengthen the back muscles to a point where the injury will correct itself.

If the treatment is successful, he may be cleared to return later in the season. Had Fraipont undergone surgery, he wouldn't have been back until the start of 2006-07.

"It's getting better," he said of the back. "I have a brace on, a soft brace, for when I work out for support. I'm going to start skating lightly in a couple weeks or so."

Spondylolisthesis is often caused by a stress fracture in one of the vertebrae. It's believed that Fraipont's injury occurred sometime last year, but he didn't begin experiencing pain until this fall when one of his discs slipped forward.

"The surgeon I saw two days ago said he has seen about four guys who had it playing hockey," he noted. "It's common in weightlifters and swimmers and gymnasts.

"It was fine during training camp. It didn't really bug me but my joint locked up (early in the season). I had to take off of practice because it was hurting too much. I got an X-ray and they found (the problem). It could have been there for a while, but we're not sure. It might even be genetic."

If his back responds, Fraipont would like to resume practising with the Pats by late January or early February.

In the meantime, all he can do is be patient.

"It's tough," said Fraipont, who spent last season with the Okanagan Rockets of the B.C. Major Midget League. "First year playing in the (WHL), then to get hurt. That's frustrating. But I don't really think about it too much because if I do it'll just make me feel worse."

Fraipont was a pleasant surprise in training camp when he joined the Pats as an undrafted list addition. With his size and physical presence, the 6-foot-3, 207-pounder eventually muscled his way into the team's group of eight defencemen.

"I went to Regina in May for their spring camp," he recalled. "They said they liked my size: 'Just work hard. No one is for sure. A rookie can take a vet's spot.'

"I was coming into camp with the mindset of wanting to make the team. It was kind of a surprise, but I just worked hard and it paid off."

The timing of Fraipont's injury left the Pats in a bind following the loss of veteran defenceman Andy Schenn, who may not play again due to concussion problems.

The team has since filled the gap by calling up Matt MacDermott from the midget AAA Calgary Buffalos and acquiring hard-nosed rearguard Josh Fauth from the Kootenay Ice.

Veteran defenceman Derek Reinhart isn't expected to return until after Christmas due to a shoulder problem.

NOTE: The Pats are idle until Saturday, when they venture to Winnipeg for a rematch with the Brandon Wheat Kings, who posted a 3-2 shootout win on Tuesday at the Brandt Centre. Saturday's contest is the first of four games the Wheat Kings have scheduled for Winnipeg's 15,000-seat MTS Centre.