MK LIGHTNING hard man Ross Bowers can’t wait to get stuck into arch rivals Peterborough Phantoms this weekend – even if his recently operated on knee is giving him pain.
The 27-year-old underwent corrective keyhole surgery three weeks ago, but returned to help Lightning beat Basingstoke Bison just 11 days later, and then scored his first English Premier League goal of the season in Saturday’s home win over Bracknell Bees.
Against the advice of experts, Bowers returned to action when the team was left shorthanded with the absence of Adam Calder and Chris Wiggins, and was glad he did.
“Beating Basingstoke on penalty shots after losing to them the previous day, and all I had been through, felt like the best feeling in the world at the time,” he said.
“I was told I’d be out for six to eight weeks, but I always had four or five weeks in mind. But then with the team being short on numbers I decided to play.
“Nick (Poole) didn’t want me to play, but I thought I would be fine. Being injured is part of ice hockey and you have to get used to it. I know there are others who would have done the same.”
Playing with a knee brace and taking painkillers during games, Bowers has been inspirational in Lightning’s last three outings, and wins. Not just because of his performances out on the ice, but because he’s been out there in the first place – epitomising the spirit in the camp.
Even last weekend’s double success against Bracknell should have come too early for Bowers, who is still unable to get back to his day job as a tree surgeon, and continues to sit out of Lightning training.
But he was determined to play and do his part for the team when he was needed most, even if it meant playing through the pain barrier.
“The doctors wouldn’t be too happy with me if I told them,” he said. “The knee is still quite swollen with lots of liquid in there, but it’s not as painful as it was.
“It’s hard at the end of periods and at the end of games, but I just get some ice on it and that helps. Most of the guys have played through injuries that you wouldn’t even know about, but we just get on it. It’s part of the sport.
“They have appreciated me playing when I shouldn’t, even if I’m just on for a few minutes to give the guys a rest. If we had a full squad I wouldn’t have played.”
With previous knee, wrist and shoulder injuries, Bowers is no stranger to ice hockey-inflicted pain. But he was unable to delay the operation on his left knee any longer and finally had to bite the bullet just before the start of the season.
But now that he’s getting back to his best, he can’t wait to take on Phantoms in another double-header this weekend, with the target of picking up another four points and climbing the EPL table.
“They haven’t started the season too well in terms of results, but they only lost to Basingstoke by one goal on Sunday,” said Bowers. “They’re a far better team than they were last season when they were getting thumped all over the place.
“I can’t wait for it. I’m an MK lad and I hate Peterborough. It’s ingrained into you from the junior teams and they’re always great games to play in.
“We’ve had an OK start to the season but we want to get better. There were a lot of changes over the summer and it’s taking time, but we’re getting there and another four points would be good.”