Dimond's Cole Christianson plans to skate in today's first round of the state hockey tournament on a leg held together by seven pieces of titanium.
But all that hardware isn't keeping Christianson off the ice, because he's thinking about another piece of hardware -- the Class 4A championship trophy the top-seeded Lynx hope to win for the first time since 2001.
The Lynx have come close since their last championship, playing in five of the last six title games and losing them all -- four by one goal.
Christianson, a 5-foot-6 senior forward, decided he's not going to let seven titanium staples above his right ankle keep him off high school hockey's biggest stage and out of his team's biggest games.
"Adrenaline helps out a lot," he said. "Maybe not all games, but these kind of games you can handle the pain."
Christianson was rushed to an emergency room exactly one week ago when his leg was sliced open by an opponent's skate blade during a collision.
"I thought it was a bad bruise," he said. "But I looked down and there was blood coming out of my skate."
After getting knocked to the ice, he stood up and felt a sting just above his ankle. He skated the length of the rink and back again before realizing the collision was worse than he first thought.
Though he missed the end of Dimond's 3-0 victory over South in the Cook Inlet Conference tournament semifinal, he considers himself lucky. His doctor told him the skate blade missed his artery by a half of an inch.
"I was nervous," Christianson said. "After he stapled it up, it was a little rough looking, but I knew I could still play.
"It just hurt a little."
Two days later, he was back on the ice, limping, and played all three periods in Dimond's 3-1 win over West in the conference championship game.
"He's a tough guy," Dimond junior Casey Hill said. "You gotta give him props for that."
Neil Gotschall, a goaltender for Dimond, wasn't surprised with Christianson's decision to keep playing.
"We play all year for this," Gotschall said.
Dimond coach Dennis Sorenson wasn't shocked, either.
"Hockey players are used to stitches and staples," said Sorenson, who has seen a lot of injuries in his 16 years as a coach.
At South High, home of the four-time defending Class 4A state champion Wolverines, injuries and other physical setbacks have been epidemic this season:
• Brad Schierhorn: broken collarbone.
• Josh Small: broken collarbone.
• Kyle Shepherd: broken jaw.
• Kyle Head: torn ankle ligaments.
• Spencer Brodt: broken wrist.
• Josh Benton: Bickerstaff's encephalitis.
When Christianson returned last weekend for the CIC championship game, he asked athletic trainer Lynne Young to re-tape his leg during the first intermission. He thought his wound had ripped open and was bleeding.
Young assured him nothing was wrong. His skate was merely putting pressure on the staples.
"It won't break open," Young told Christianson. "It's just (a matter of) how much pain you can handle."
For a state trophy, Christianson said, he can handle plenty.
"A little pain won't stop us from winning," he said.
Find Kevin Klott online at adn.com/contact/kklott or call 257-4335.
By KEVIN KLOTT