Playing through the pain, Corbett looks to prove himself

By: Scott Haddow – Straight Up Sports

 | Mar 25, 2014 - 10:33 AM |
The Sudbury Wolves have come to count on Jeff Corbett for steady two-way play and his play in all kinds of situations. Photo by Scott Haddow.

The Sudbury Wolves have come to count on Jeff Corbett for steady two-way play and his play in all kinds of situations. Photo by Scott Haddow.

Jeff Corbett was bleeding profusely from a large slice in his cheek. An opponent’s skate blade had hit Corbett during an on-ice collision along the boards.

Corbett didn’t notice until he got back to the bench. He had 10 stitches put in. They matched the four stitches he had under his nose from the previous game where he missed a body check and slammed his face into the glass. Corbett only missed the time it took to get the 10 stitches before returning to the game and continuing to take his regular shifts.

The wounds will heal. The cuts on his face will leave scars. Permanent marks to remind him of how tough the game can be. It matters not to Corbett. He was looking to leave his own mark on the league this season by playing the entire season and prove to pro scouts he is deserving of a shot at the next level.

“I’ve struggled to find my player identity the last few years,” the 19-year-old said. “This year, I have found my identity as a leader on this team and be a player the team can count on. I’ve grown as a player this year. I want to make it to the next level. It’s been a couple of up-and-down years for me. This has been my year to prove myself. I will keep playing my game and, hopefully, it pays out for me in the long run. I still have a lot to prove.”

Corbett has had bad luck with injuries throughout his OHL career. He missed a lot of games his first three seasons with a bout against mono and issues with a concussion. He managed 12 games in 2010-11, 24 in 2011-12 and 45 last season. This season, Corbett played in 57 games, and he has battled hard in every contest and the proof is on his face.

It hasn’t been a pain-free season in 2013-14 either for Corbett. He has missed a handful of games this season due to a variety of wounds such as a banged up knee, ankle sprain and concussion. At many times this season, Corbett’s face has looked like he has gone through hell — he sported a black eye earlier in the season after a fight.

“He was looking like Frankenstein,” Wolves captain Kevin Raine said after Corbett’s cheek was stitched up.

The Wolves have indeed come to count on Corbett for steady two-way play and his play in all kinds of situations for head coach Paul Fixter. Corbett’s play on the ice and genuine character off the ice have made teammates know Corbett is all in for them no matter what happens on or off the ice.

“He has proven to all of us he is willing to die for the team,” Raine said. “I play with him a lot and I know it better than anyone. He is always positive. When I am trying to rally the team, he is right there with me. He got that nasty cut on his face and finished the game and didn’t let it bother him. I love playing with him.”

Corbett has definitely made an impression on scouts this season. North American Central Scouting chief scout Mark Seidel had Corbett ranked last year for the NHL draft and thought a team should take a chance on him. Seidel thinks a pro team still needs to give him an opportunity.

“He does a lot of good things — he’s smart, makes a good first pass and makes good decisions. I think he is capable of being a pro prospect,” Seidel said.

Corbett has heard and seen the talk about him being made of glass or being soft because he has missed a lot of games, mostly on Internet hockey forums. Corbett doesn’t allow the negativity to impact his life. Corbett uses it as motivation.

“I’ve heard a lot of things,” he said. “I believe I battle through a lot. I got 10 stitches in my face against Erie and came back for the second and third period to finish the game. It hurt, but no problem. It all motivates me. I like to step up and prove people wrong. I think this season I have shown that.”

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