Cloquet, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- In his 20 years, Jesse Kessler his spent a lot of his time on the ice.
"Come on. What's not to love? It's the fastest game in the world," said Kessler.
This winter, though, the game came to a screeching halt for the Tennessee native.
"I think this is the longest I've gone since I was probably six or eight years old without playing hockey. Man, I missed it."
It was a check just like any other that Kessler's taken throughout his career. But, it was the fall afterward that would cost him nearly a month and a half of ice time.
"I hurt my shoulder and the problem was I inflamed a bursa. The swelling and inflammation had to go down before I could regain mobility of my arm."
While he was injured, Kessler says he spent a lot of time on a bike just like this one. During practice each day, he'd come up here to try and stay in shape while waiting patiently for his shoulder to heal.
The wait finally ended last weekend for Kessler, who played in the team's final regular season game.
Head coach Corey Millen says having his captain back will give his team an extra boost for the playoffs.
"He's a character guy," said Millen. "He's a glue guy. He works his butt off every night. He's tough. He plays hard. He's that guy that every team needs."
In his third and final year of juniors, Kessler wanted to be "that guy." But looking back now, he says he learned a lot this year even from the sidelines.
"As a 20–year–old, you really want to be the guy out there that's helping your team, and all I could do was fill water bottles pack the bus. In talking with my parents, I think it humbled me and made me stronger for it."