LEWISTON - Last summer Niagara sophomore forward Scott Arnold made a promise to his head coach Dave Burkholder.He said he would play in the Purple Eagles season opener against nationally ranked Michigan.
"I didn't think there would be any way possible he would be physically ready to play," said Burkholder.
Arnold made that promise the day after he had surgery for testicular cancer. "It's definitely really scary, it's definitely not something that I ever thought would happen to me," said Arnold.
The 22-year-old got the stunning diagnosis this past August. He underwent surgery two days later. After waiting two-weeks for test results, his doctors told him he was cancer free. Less than six weeks after the initial procedure, Arnold kept his promise and returned to the ice against the Wolverines.
This season he's currently tied for second on the Purple Eagles with 10 goals. "He's back and when he's going we're going," said Burkholder. The Eagles are having another solid year and arecurrently tied for third place in their conference and just two points out of first.
For Arnold, it's a privileged just to be playing. "There's definitely fears, I was definitely scared, what was going to happen next, what was to come after the surgery."
The Montreal native burst onto the scene during his freshman season at Niagara, finishing third on the team with 16 goals. This past summer he was invited to play at two NHL development camps with the Calgary Flames and the New Jersey Devils. "It's really exciting I mean it's almost like a dream come true. I mean for my whole life, the dream is to play in the NHL."
With the cancer scare behind him, those NHL dreams are back on track. Arnold has been invited to more NHL camps this summer.
While his successcontinues on the ice, Scott isnow sharing his story in an effort to help others. Theteam is selling special "get checked" T-shirts to create awareness. The money raised from the shirts will help the Mount St. Mary's Hospital cancer testing center in Lewiston.
"You know it's not an easy subject for a college kid to have to talk about," said Burkholder. "He's urging people to get checked. If this saves one person from going through what Scott went through I think it's well worth it."
Scott credits his early diagnosis as a key factor in his quick recovery. A process he now hopes will help others each time he steps back onto the ice. "It's just staying positive and realizing as bad as what I had was, some people have it a lot worse off," said Arnold."I was able to get through quickly and get right back to hockey. You just have to hit it head on and realize this is your battle and you have to take care of it and move forward."