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​CARON: Playing through the pain

<p>The Virginia club hockey team claimed the ACCHL championship title in February.</p>

The Virginia club hockey team claimed the ACCHL championship title in February.

His ankle popped and a timeout was called. Virginia club hockey’s freshman goalie David Voigt already knew what had happened when he stepped out of the net — there was no doubt in his mind that his ankle was broken. The question was how badly.

The swelling was immediate and the bruising set in soon after. But as the team’s only goalie, Voigt knew he couldn’t leave the net. It was the third period — he didn’t have to play on it for long. He knew he had to stick it out until the end.

Virginia was playing intrastate rival James Madison University in the ACCHL semifinals. The game was their gateway to the championship — their shot at a title they hadn’t captured since the turn of the twenty-first century.

“There was a sharp pain as soon as I went down in butterfly,” Voigt said. “But we didn’t have another goalie, so I had to play through it, which was brutal.”

After a few moments on the bench, Voigt stepped back on the ice. His teammates knew he was in pain, but they also knew he was their only shot at winning.

“When he got back on the ice, we realized we all needed to step up. [We] needed to play really well,” senior forward Reed Brady said. “I knew no one was going to beat us then — I mean, we’re a good team, but after that we had the motivation to really make it all happen that weekend.”

The 6-foot-1 Darien, Conn., native didn’t let the Cavaliers down. With Voigt back in goal, Virginia pulled out a victory and advanced to the championship game the next day. He wrapped his ankle, taping it as tightly as he could. He needed all the support he could get to survive another game. Adrenaline acted as Voigt’s painkiller as he laced his skates back up to face NC State in the finals.

Broken ankle and all, Voigt and the Cavalier defense held the Wolfpack to one goal. Virginia’s forwards were on fire — scoring five goals against NC State — while Voigt kept the crease locked down.

“I honestly don’t think we would’ve won the championship without him,” Brady said.

Virginia’s victory was a product of Voigt’s dedication, and his commitment to a championship inspired his teammates. He pushed the pain out of his mind until after the game, when his mother took him to the hospital for X-rays. He knew he probably wasn’t making the injury any better by continuing to play, but his team needed him — he didn’t think twice about playing through it.

His mother worried from the stands, but she understood he had to play and couldn’t leave his team stranded. That’s the kind of teammate Voigt is — he did what needed to be done, no matter what it was going to cost him.

“He was giving everything he had,” Brady said. “He stuck it out, and the whole team rallied around him. We all realized that if he could give 110 percent with a broken ankle, we could do this — and we did.”

Four weeks later, Voigt is still recovering. With a broken ankle bone and several torn ligaments, Voigt is not yet back to 100 percent, and he probably won’t be for a while. Too much pressure still sends a shooting pain through his foot and though he is off crutches, he still wears a boot on his foot. And while it was his worst hockey injury to date, he wouldn’t change a thing.

“It was crazy, but it was also such a cool experience to be part of,” Voigt said. “I’ll never forget it.”

From traveling the country with his twin brother for youth tournaments to claiming an ACCHL championship, some of Voigt’s favorite memories were made and worst injuries suffered in the net. But in his 15-year hockey career, he’s never been more confident in a decision than he was in his choice to keep playing and to help bring home that championship.

Voigt is dedicated and he delivers — that much can be said for sure. The damage he did by continuing to play — well, that’s not as clear. But for Voigt, that’s not the point.

“It was so painful, and I knew I was making it worse by playing on it,” Voigt said. “Even with all that, it was incredible. Winning [the championship] made everything worth it.”