Torosian overcomes injury during sophomore season
By Ross Forman – It was the first day of tryouts during his sophomore season, literally 10 minutes in. Saint Viator was scrimmaging when Harout Torosian came off the bench for his second shift, racing to the puck, which was opposite of the benches in the neutral zone.
“I get to the puck first and turn to go down the boards into the offensive zone,” recalled Torosian, now a senior. “As I cross the blue line my opponent leans in to rub me off the puck and I shield him off. He then comes back with more power and gets under my hip and hit me clean from the side. I lose my balance and go sliding full speed into the boards on my left. I hit hard, bounced off and saw my leg hanging.”
Torosian knew immediately that he was seriously injured. His leg was hanging 90 degrees to the left of his body.
He broke his left tibia, fibula, and part of his growth plate.
Torosian would miss his entire sophomore season, the first time he missed a full season.
“It was very hard to take in,” he said.
Torosian was admitted to the hospital that night at about 8:30pm and didn’t leave until nearly 5 a.m.
He ultimately was in a cast up to the middle of his thigh for more than two months, then moved into a cast below his knee for two more months. Once he got put into a walking boot, he started rehab, trying to regain strength and balance, which was extremely difficult, he said. “I had to dig deep and really focus, push through the pain. With determination and perseverance, the next thing I knew I was skating again.”
Torosian, immediately after getting into the hospital, in the emergency room, had his leg adjusted to straighten out his bones. That didn’t work, though, so the doctors tried to adjust it a second time, which was unsuccessful as well. A couple of days later, he had surgery – and four pins were inserted, which crisscrossed through his lower leg to keep his bones straight.
They came out when he had the first cast removed.
Torosian returned to the ice for the Lions in game one of the Chicago Catholic Hockey League (CCHL) Championship Series against Saint Ignatius at MB Ice Arena in Chicago.
Back on the ice, eventually, Torosian “felt free.”
He was finally back to where his entire life revolves – hockey.
“It was tough to get back to where I was and better, but I was extremely determined and focused,” Torosian said. “My coaches, teammates, parents, and the rest of my family were by my side every step of the way.”
As a junior, Torosian skated on Saint Viator’s top line – after starting on the third line.
He was back, arguably better than before the injury.
“I worked hard every day, every practice, every game, to prove that I deserved a top spot on this team. I was racking up points almost every game even if the team wasn’t playing the best,” Torosian said. “As the season progressed, I moved up to the second line. I was still producing and played well, so I eventually made it to the top line. This meant that I would be going up against the top players on other teams.
“I held my own, stuck to my game, trusted my linemates and still put up points every game. The coaches had trust in me, and I believed in myself, which is what drove me to continue to get better and improve every day.”
Saint Viator head coach Tim Benz said Torosian, “had to overcome some serious struggles and work extremely hard to get back into playing shape. Despite all that, he climbed back to the top of our lineup last year – on our top line. As a junior, he tallied 33 points and 17 assists in 54 games. He is an extreme offensive weapon, a threat to score every time the puck is on his stick. He is one of the most talented forwards in the state.”
Torosian, 18, lives in Hoffman Estates and sports jersey No. 50. He is a left wing yet has played all forward positions. He previously skated for the Wolfpack and the Chicago Blues.
“I am very proud of myself for getting past an extremely rough patch of my life,” he said. “I didn’t even know how long it was going to take for me to walk normally again, let alone skate. With all the perseverance and determination, I had, along with the support from everyone around me, I fought back and proved to myself that I am one of the top players on this team, and that’s exactly what I did.
Torosian, naturally, couldn’t wait for his junior season to start. He was eager and excited for the first faceoff.
“We had a very good season, even though it didn’t finish the way we wanted. The brotherhood was unmatched, and many great memories were made,” Torosian said. “I thought I had a very successful junior year. Leading the team in goals and third overall in points as a junior was a great accomplishment. I bettered my game, honed my skills and felt like I was a big attribute to the team.”
Torosian is an all-around player with great vision and playmaking ability. He is solid on offense and defense, with a wicked shot and perfect passing ability.
He gives credit to his parents, who he tagged as “big influences” because of how supportive they are and how they push him every day to be the best he can be. His Viator coaches also have helped him improve, giving him solid tips and film to watch.
Torosian, still undecided on his college plans for the fall, encourages others to overcome obstacles, too, especially if your life seems to have drastically changed forever. Be optimistic and have a clear mind, he stressed. Be determined and preserver, he added.
“Never give up, have an end goal, something you want to achieve. Put your mind and heart into it and you will be successful,” Torosian added.
“I feel like I’m one of the top leaders on the team because I am always trying to bring energy and positivity. I want us to have as much success as possible and that comes from picking up teammates, being vocal in the locker room and on the bench during games. I help the underclassmen by giving them pointers from my perspective to hopefully have them improve and see other options. I will be hard with criticism at times because I know that those players can become even better; they just need that spark, that conversation from a teammate instead of a coach. I always ask teammates if they understand what is going on and if they need help. I want to be someone who all my teammates can talk to on and off the ice, about hockey or life, that will make an impact on their game or personal life.”
*Photos courtesy of Talia Torosian and Maria Callahan*
Slapshots With … Saint Viator Wing Harout Torosian
Favorite NHL Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Favorite NHL Player: Patrick Kane
Favorite Sports-Themed Movie: Slapshot
Favorite Pre-Game Meal: Pasta with marinara
Favorite Hockey Memory: “Playing in the St. Louis Blues arena, formerly known as the Scottrade Center, as a kid during a tournament.”
Celebrity You’d Like to Meet: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Best Hockey Tip: “Play your game, play hard and have fun” – His dad, Simon
Away From Hockey: “My first focus is school, making sure my grades are good, and all my homework is completed every night. I love working out; I do it every day, even after school and practice. I spend time with family and hang out with friends. If everything is complete and I don’t have any plans I will play some PlayStation to pass the time.”
Gym Life: “With the passion I have for working out, it is a tremendous help to hockey. Getting bigger, faster, stronger in the gym translates onto the ice. When I see improvements in the gym, I see improvements on the ice; that’s what keeps me motivated to continue and work hard every day.
Off-Ice: “During the summer I pull my net out and shoot pucks for an hour every day. My shot and stick handling can always improve and the time I spend outside doing that shows when I move to the ice.”
Little-Known Facts: “I can speak and understand my native language, Armenian … I was a competitive swimmer and held many meet records before choosing to pursue hockey.”
Teammate Who You Could See As A Hockey Coach: Nicholas Conenna
Most Accurate Shot on Saint Viator: Benny Wozniak
Fastest Player: James Gorman
Best High School Uniforms (other than Viator): Glenbrook South
Ross Forman has written about Illinois high school hockey for more than 15 years and is the only sportswriter to have covered Illinois High School hockey every year during that stretch. He played locally and then at Indiana University before becoming a referee. Ross was a referee for the State Championship game several years ago at the United Center. Contact Ross by email at Rossco814@aol.com.