The Spokane Chiefs opened camp at the Arena on Thursday with a tiring practice before some intense scrimmaging among the more than 60 players who hope to make the Western Hockey League team.
But there was no way second-year coach Don Nachbaur and his staff could make it too hard for returning defenseman Davis Vandane.
That’s because the 19-year-old from Yorkton, Saskatchewan, has a new appreciation for hockey and everything associated with it.
Vandane was on his way to Spokane last week when he was involved in a near head-on collision on Highway 95 between Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene.
“I got soreness all over from the accident, but other than that I’m pretty good,” Vandane said after the practice. “Three feet one way or 3 feet the other way and I could have been ‘donezo.’ ”
According to the Idaho State Police, Ardis C. Pettibon, 72, was driving north and crossed over the center line, colliding with Vandane.
She and passenger Robert B. Pettibon, 73, were taken to Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene.
“I haven’t heard from her, but her vehicle was pretty bad,” Vandane said. “From what I’ve heard, she is doing OK. … I’m trying to stay away and let insurance handle it.”
His car was totaled.
“My parents were pretty worked up,” he said. “They were trying to make as many phone calls as they could to make sure I was OK.
“My billets came and picked me up and helped me out with all of that stuff.”
So a tough opening day on the ice wasn’t so bad.
“Right after it happened, I was pretty worried about what was going to happen to my body. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play,” Vandane said. “You realize what you have in front of you and how much you enjoy doing what you do.”