Traverse City Record-Eagle

Sports

March 7, 2012

TC goalie upbeat after freak injury

BIG RAPIDS — Bill Vermetten is hoping Traverse City Central can pull things back together as well as doctors put his foot back together.

In a freak injury after practice on Thursday, Vermetten's right foot was stepped on by a teammate, slicing it open and damaging nine of 10 tendons to the toes.

He needed emergency surgery to reattach the tendons.

"My buddy Cam (Givens) is my locker mate, and he took a step back without knowing I was there," Vermetten said. "He landed on my foot. I remember when I was taking off my skates how close he was getting to my foot."

He'll have a rehab of two to three months, but intends to not only be back for next hockey season, but also football in the fall.

"I think I'll be fine," Vermetten said. "I may be sore for a bit, but I'll have physical therapy. I'll be good to go for next season."

"I've got another year left, plus my senior year of football to look forward to," Vermetten said. "So I've got a lot to work hard for."

The skate left a gash across the top of Vermetten's foot, extending from the right side of his right foot all the way to his big toe.

"They had to carefully stitch the (cut) end of each tendon to the other end of the tendon," Vermetten said. "It was kind of a lengthy procedure."

The Trojans' starting goaltender was forced to sit out the team's last two playoff games, including a 3-2 overtime win over Escanaba and a 5-4 loss to Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern on Tuesday. He watched the games from the end of Central's bench, and could be seen giving encouragement and advice to his replacement, fellow junior goalie Michael Wittershiem.

"He proved it to himself and everyone else in the regionals that he can do it," Vermetten said of Wittershiem, who took his place in Sunday's 3-2 overtime victory over No. 5 Marquette.

The incident is still a bit of a blur to Vermetten.

"It was just utter shock," Vermetten said. "I didn't scream or cry or anything. I just didn't know what to do."

Luckily, a few of his teammates did.

Ian McGraw, Lucas Little and Matt Jordan moved Vermetten and tried to stop the bleeding while others went out into the rink to fetch assistant coach Dr. Mike Peters.

"It was like a war zone," Vermetten said. "A couple kids had blood all over them. They took care of everything really quick, and it wasn't like anyone was panicking. A lot of guys said it was the most blood they've ever seen.

"I couldn't say anything until I got cleaned up and taped up. Then I thought I'd be back on the ice the next day."

Vermetten is upbeat, and he has reason to be. The Trojans were one goal away from the Final Four, and could have up to 15 returning players next year, including nine would-be seniors.

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