Seeing the way Jake Kulevich skates, it’s hard to imagine that there was a time when he could hardly walk.
About 16 months before he made his debut on the ice at Colgate University, Kulevich suffered a broken femur from a leg check while playing prep school hockey for the Berkshire School in western Massachusetts. The Marblehead native spent the next three months in a hard cast — running all the way from the hip to the ankle — that basically stopped him from moving around much.
“It was two days before my birthday. I think we had six games left in the season,” Kulevich recalled. “I felt it right above my knee and couldn’t move the leg at all. At first they thought maybe I’d torn the ligaments, but the X-ray shows a big crack in the femur.”
After the bone healed, Kulevich had to rebuild the strength in his hips and legs, the power base for any hockey player. He hooked up with the South Shore Kings of the Eastern Junior Hockey League in part because of trainer Brian McDonough’s help in the rehab process, and he wound up an all-star for the EJHL’s 2012-13 season.
“It was a tough recovery, but when I face adversity now I feel like I’ve been through worse,” Kulevich said. “The off-ice stuff was just as important as on the ice, and that’s what helped with South Shore. I got the muscles back to prepare me for college.”
A few months before the injury, Kulevich had committed to play Division 1 college hockey at Colgate beginning in the 2013-14 season. Though he knew that time was at least a year away, the support of the Raiders’ coaching staff through his injury raised Kulevich’s spirits in a big way.