Size. Ummm. Not so much.
Four out of five isn’t too bad, however, when you’re looking for a good hockey player. Second-year Colorado Eagles forward Johnny Lazo has always been fast, skilled, agile and smart.
“When you’re 5’6 and 170 lbs, you don’t really have an option. I’ve always had to rely on my speed, smarts and drive to play good hockey,” said Lazo recently as the Eagles play the Idaho Steelheads in the first round of the ECHL playoffs. “Speed has always been a huge part of my game.”
Nicknamed ‘The Flash’ by his house-league coach when he was seven or eight, a young fan recently brought the nickname back to life with a #9 Flash sign at a home game late in the season.
Twice in the past 13 months though, the Flash and that blazing speed has come to a grinding halt.
“We were on the road in Tulsa last year and I got a call from my wife’s Mom. She said, you have to come home right away. It’s happening. The twins are coming, you need to get on a plane and come right home,” recalled Lazo.
Lazo’s wife Alexis wasn’t due until June. The prospect of having twin daughters arrive in March was not ideal. Not for the health of his daughters, not for his wife, not for his hockey season. He knew he had to leave the team right before the 2016 playoffs were about to begin.
“The Eagles were amazing. They’ve always been so supportive, such an incredible organization. They got me home to Winnipeg as quickly as possible and treated me well throughout my time back home. I was in constant communication with (then) Coach Chris Stewart and current coach Aaron Schneekloth.”
Lazo missed eight games, and with his twin girls still in the hospital, but stable and doing well, he was able to make it back for the final two playoff games against rival Utah which ended up knocking out the Eagles in six games.
“I knew I wanted to come back this year. The Eagles are a top-notch organization, and the way they treated me, made it an easy decision,” said Lazo. “Being able to bring my wife and daughters here to Northern Colorado has been amazing.”
A New Season
Two games. Two points. Plus 3.
Lazo had a goal and an assist after the first two games of the 2016-17 season, both wins against Rapid City. He had picked right up where he left off the previous season where he recorded 21 goals and 15 assists in just 34 games, garnering him the ECHL rookie of the month award for January.
Then, at practice, Flash came to a grinding halt happened for the second time.
“It was a simple 2 on 2 drill and I went wide. Our Captain, Sean Zimmerman gave me a little bump on the hip and I went crashing into the boards,” recalled Lazo.
The largest and strongest bone in the human body snapped. He had suffered a fractured femur.
Apparently, though, the Flash heals fast too. Initial reports suggested Lazo was going to miss the rest of the season. He missed just 52 games. He was back on the ice February 24, a little more than four months after suffering the devastating injury.
“I was a 100 and 200-meter sprinter in High School and I’ve always had really strong legs. Once the muscle mass started to come back the strength back quickly. I credit my sprinting background with giving me the base to build on,” said Lazo.
Lazo joined an Eagles squad in late February that had won 13 games in a row and went on to win a team-record 17 consecutive games in a row. Unfortunately for the Eagles stumbled the final two weeks of the season going 2-5 and giving up first place in the Mountain Division to defending Kelly Cup Champion Allen Americans.
“After the streak, we were very up and down. Every team was gunning for us, fighting for their playoff lives, playing their best hockey. We didn’t panic. Every man in that dressing room knew what was going on and we weren’t concerned, we were excited for the playoffs to begin,” Lazo Commented.
In his 21 games back since returning, Lazo has 14 points (4G, 10A) and the Eagles currently leads the Idaho Steelheads 2 games to 1 in the Mountain Division Semifinals. Game 4 is Friday night in Boise.
Watch the Eagles carefully and keep an eye on diminutive #9. Don’t blink too long or you could miss The Flash do something special in the 2017 Kelly Cup Playoffs.