Brett Welychka’s head was spinning.
On March 26, Saginaw Spirit forward Terry Trafford delivered a check to the hard-working London Knights winger’s noggin.
“When I got hit I was so dazed,” said Welychka, who scored his first of the playoffs in Sunday’s Game 2. “I didn’t even remember getting hit. I had to watch the video.”
The 19-year-old Londoner didn’t return to the lineup until Game 5 of the next series, London’s clinching victory over the Kitchener Rangers, but hasn’t missed a shift since.
Over that 17-day layoff, Welychka battled constant headaches that would peak at the same time of each day. He was sensitive to light, subjected to sitting in the dark in the early stages of the recovery process.
Players like Welychka don’t show up on the scoresheet often — he has two points in 11 games — instead contributing elsewhere, by cycling the puck and backchecking effectively, for instance.
“I think I’m slowly, gradually, getting back into it,” said the 5-foot-10, 189-pounder.
Two seasons into his OHL career, the St. Thomas Aquinas high school grad is still taken aback by the crowds that pack Budweiser Gardens each night. Welychka and overage rearguard Tommy Hughes are the lone hometowners on the 2012-13 edition of the Knights.
The forward says the robust atmosphere, which are usually 9,000-plus, is something to cherish, especially now.
“Every game, I just stop and realize it’s something special,” he said. “You can’t take it for granted.”