Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- For University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) junior defenseman Luke McManus, the end of his collegiate hockey career was not supposed to come so soon.
"I started going to the doctors again, and they ended up diagnosing me with nerve damage," McManus said. "Because of that, they told me it was going to be my last year. I think it really won't sink in until that last game hits and we're not going to the rink anymore."
That last game was this past weekend, but teammate and roommate Andy Welinski says McManus' attitude was always a positive one.
"He's always smiling. It's good to have something like that," Welinski said. "When things are going good, everyone's happy, but when things are going bad, it takes a lot of character to be positive through those times."
"If I can do one thing or say one thing that'll spark one guy, two guys, or three guys," McManus said. "I'll take that."
And if anybody had reason to be frustrated, it was McManus.
An injury-plagued career saw him play in just 36 games for UMD, but he says just being around the guys on a day-to-day basis was enough to keep him happy.
"It's so easy to come down here and just have fun," he said. "With the 20-some guys we have in the locker room, it'd be hard to come and not have a smile on your face and not joke around with those guys."
"He's been a tremendous teammate," UMD head coach Scott Sandelin said. "He's a guy who has worked as hard as anyone on our team through that stuff, and even when he was healthy, to get stronger and to be the best player he could be. It's sad when an injury limits his ability to play, but he's been a great player for us."
And even as his collegiate career comes to an early close, McManus says it has played out exactly the way he would have wanted.
"Whether I would have played one game or 100 games, I would have considered my four years here a huge success," he said. "The people I've met, the relationships I've made, the education I got -- I wouldn't trade it for anything."