MILWAUKEE -- We have seen in so many ways, when a player wins a championship, he or she is seen in a different light. It validates a career, in many ways. A Milwaukee Admiral knows the feeling, but not in the way you might expect!
Players on the Milwaukee Admirals hockey team dream of winning a Calder Cup in the American Hockey League, or maybe a Stanley Cup if they move up to the National Hockey League. Juuso Puustinen is no different, but he is already a world champion.
Puustinen is a top prospect from Finland. He suffered a freak broken kneecap in a game in the Bradley Center back in March. "I was trying to block a shot, and I guess my leg was kind of in a bad angle, and the puck found a way over my kneepad and straight to my kneecap," Puustinen said.
It was a clean break and an extremely rare injury. After surgery, Puustinen had a rough night. "I couldn't sleep the whole night, and it was eight hours straight, pain level ten. The whole time I just wanted to cut my leg off and scream, and call my mother to help me. I couldn't do anything. Pain medicine didn't help at all," Puustinen said.
Mercifully, after that first night, the pain subsided, and not too long afterwards, rehab began. Thoughts of getting back on the ice helped propel Puustinen, and believe it or not, so did memories of swamp soccer - an aptly-named and primarily Finnish sport. "It's really muddy and wet. Sometimes if it is really wet, you might be stuck from your thigh," Puustinen said.
In 2010, Puustinen was part of a world championship team - a feat his team won't repeat because they feel it's just too hard and too muddy to be worth it. "When we won it, it was in penalty shots. When we got the final goal and were the world champions, in that moment and for 30 seconds, that's probably the greatest moment of my life," Puustinen said.
Having experienced the ultimate, Puustinen is giving maximum effort to get back to the top - this time, on the ice.
Puustinen has progressed enough in his physical rehabilitation that he's been allowed to go home to Finland. He expects to be back on the ice in America for training camp next September.