St. Dominic/Winthrop/Gray-New Gloucester’s West Duffy controls the puck as she looks past Scarborough’s Gwen Diaz toward the goal during a game in January 2020 in Auburn. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Bad luck has been too frequent a visitor to St. Dominic/Gray-New Gloucester/Monmouth/Winthrop forward West Duffy during the past year.

The Gray-New Gloucester senior has had a rash of injuries since the end of the soccer season of her junior year. The most major injury was tearing her right ACL at a Franklin Pierce University ID soccer camp, which caused her to miss the entire girl hockey season last winter.

“It was like the last minute of the ID camp, and I went down; I knew it wasn’t good,” Duffy said.

Duffy didn’t make her return to athletic competition until the middle of the soccer season this fall. She was hesitant to put much weight on her right leg and strained her left hip flexor and SI joint because of the extra weight she was putting on her left side.

After recovering from the hip injury, she started skating when girls hockey practices began Nov. 8. A week after getting back on the ice, another roadblock occurred when she suffered a concussion in a car accident.

“It’s just a setback when you feel fully back and finally being back to yourself after being injured, then you go back in and get injured again,” Duffy said. “It’s really disappointing, and I have struggled with that for a while. I tried to realize that, and I asked myself, why does this happen to me? But, I have to see the bright side; it’s something I can learn from.”

Duffy won’t be able to return to the ice until after Thanksgiving. The Saints open their season Dec. 2 against Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland.

BLESSING IN DISGUISE

St. Dom’s/Winthrop/Gray-New Gloucester’s West Duffy, right, and Edward Little/Leavitt/Poland’s Sophia Castanga battle for the puck during a game in January 2020 at the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Duffy said if there ever was a good time to tear an ACL, it was last fall, since there were no hockey playoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That’s what I was talking to my parents about: ACL tears are so common, this is probably the best time to tear an ACL is during COVID,” Duffy said. “No one was able to do much, anyway, and it was almost the blessing in disguise to have it happen (in the fall of 2020).”

Duffy had surgery last winter and couldn’t be around the team because of the surgery and the COVID protocols that were in place.

St. Dom’s/Gray-New Gloucester/Monmouth/Winthrop girls hockey coach Paul Gosselin did his best to check in on her.

“She stayed connected with me, but physically she wasn’t around because of COVID,” Gosselin said. “She also had surgery on her ACL, so she was bound up, and she had to recover. She wasn’t in a position to (be around the team) but most definitely (any other year she would have been) because she’s a pretty good team player.”

Duffy said not being around her teammates was difficult, but she appreciated the support she received.

“It’s a sad place to be in after you injure yourself, but it was super awesome because my coach and teammates were asking if I was OK,” Duffy said. “My family and everybody was all super supportive.”

BACK ‘GLIDING AND SKATING’

The start of hockey practices earlier this month was the first time Duffy skated since her ACL injury.

“(The knee) was perfectly fine, which was surprising,” Duffy said. “I think (hockey) is different because in soccer you are doing a lot of running. So all the jolting on your legs (puts more pressure on your knees), but with hockey, you are gliding and skating. Honestly, (the knee) felt fine. I didn’t feel any discomfort.”

Gosselin said he noticed some hesitation from Duffy in that first practice, but she was quickly back to skating like she did during her sophomore season.

“First day, she had a big smile and was happy to be there,” Gosselin said. “Rightfully so, a little bit antsy and a little timid with her knee. … She was a little gun-shy, and we had I talk, I said, ‘Trust the fix,’ and she did. The next thing you knew, she was flying.”

Gosselin hopes Duffy can use her speed this season to create offense for St. Dom’s/Gray-New Gloucester/Monmouth/Winthrop (Monmouth is a new addition to the co-op this season).

There has been a roster turnover for the Saints since two seasons ago. The only other current players who were on the team in 2019-20 are forwards Emma Roy and Isabella Webster. Duffy said she’s getting to know the rest of the team.

Roy and Duffy were linemates two years ago.

“We are really excited to have her back; she’s a strong forward,” Roy said of Duffy. “She’s a real key aspect to our team, and it’s going to be good to have her back this year.”

Duffy said she always knows where Roy will be on the ice.

“She’s just a hard worker, and she’s super talented,” Duffy said. “It’s amazing playing with her because I remember from my sophomore year, she was always there in the play, she’s super helpful, and she’s a great hockey player.”

As she waits to recover from the concussion, Duffy is eager to get back on the ice.

“We were hoping it was just going to be whiplash, but (I) got it checked out (last Thursday); (the doctors) are basically saying it’s a concussion,” Duffy said. “I might be out for a week or two, but I am super excited to get back (to hockey).”

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