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Road to recovery

THUNDER BAY -- Ryan Thomson is determined to add another chapter to his Lakehead Thunderwolves career. He doesn’t want a devastating knee injury to be where his time on the basketball court ends.
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Lakehead Thunderwolves forward Ryan Thomson participates in an offseason workout last week. Thomson is looking to return to the court for his final season in the fall after a major knee injury in February 2013. (Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com)

THUNDER BAY -- Ryan Thomson is determined to add another chapter to his Lakehead Thunderwolves career.

He doesn’t want a devastating knee injury to be where his time on the basketball court ends.

The forward is working towards a return for the upcoming season to action after being sidelined for all of this past campaign due to a torn torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in his left knee during the 2013 playoffs.

“It’s been a long process. There haven’t been any setbacks or anything like that but with the nature of the injury it’s a pretty long recovery,” Thomson said during a recent offseason workout.

“It’s been a little over a year now and it feels pretty good. I think I’m right on track with where I should be.”

Returning Lakehead head coach Scott Morrison said Thomson has been progressing along in his rehab and has been able to begin resuming basketball activities.

He believes Thomson can return to his 2012-2013 form where he averaged a career high 14.4 points per game and was named an OUA all-star.

“He’s been working with us since late February and I’ve had him on the court for the last two weeks. He’s still not 100 per cent but he’s still got to get in a little bit better shape but that’s understandable coming off the season long layoff,” Morrison said.

“Even if he gets close to the level of conditioning he was at before the injury he’s going to be one of the top players in the conference.”

Thomson suffered the injury during the final stages of the team’s second round playoff victory over the McMaster Marauders on Feb. 23, 2013.

The injury kept him out of the team’s run to the national championship game and forced him to postpone his fifth and final year of eligibility.

With former core pieces such as Greg Carter, Yoosrie Salhia and Joseph Jones having graduated, Thomson is one of the last carry-overs from Lakehead’s four straight trips to the national championship weekend.

Having missed the 2012 run with a foot injury before being sidelined for the final one with a knee injury, Thomson is determined to get the team back to the stage.

He thinks it’s a realistic goal for a team that finished fourth in the OUA West with a 9-13 record and will have a lot of players coming off their rookie seasons.

“This year it’s definitely something that’s on my mind,” he said. “It’s how I want to end my career. I think it would be a nice way to leave it, getting back. It would be satisfying more than anything.”

The six-foot-seven product of Oakville began his Lakehead tenure as a guard before developing a post game that enables him to play at the forward positions.

Despite developing his game down low, Thomson can still step outside and connect from long-range, as he is a career 44 per cent shooter from beyond the arc in OUA action.

His size and shooting ability allows Thomson to stretch the floor offensively for Lakehead, creating matchup nightmares for coaches across the conference.

His experience playing multiple positions makes him a cerebral player on the floor and allows him to take charge and lead the entire squad.

“He’s still one of the smartest players in the country when he’s on the court so I think he’s going to make a big difference for us,” Morrison said. “I feel when he’s on the court we have a chance to win because he’s like having an extra coach directing traffic and telling guys where to go.”

It was a lack of a calming veteran influence that Thomson noticed as the biggest difference between last year’s squad and the ones in years past that had reached the national stage.

There was no veteran who was accustomed to playing in high pressure situations to right the ship when things weren’t going the team’s way

“Sometimes we got a little frazzled out there when in past years we had a lot of fourth and fifth year guys that we could cohesively huddle and know things would be all right,” he said.

Both Morrison and Thomson are optimistic he’ll be ready to go for training camp in a few months.



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