Seyfert named Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award winner
BOSTON — In November of 2020, the Merrimack men's hockey team was getting ready to start the season. Merrimack forward Jordan Seyfert wasn't on the ice.
Seyfert, who battled back from two season-ending injuries in consecutive years to return this season, was named the 2022 Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award recipient at the Frozen Four on Friday night.
Early in the 2019-20 season, Seyfert suffered a broken ankle during practice and it ended his season; he was limited to just 16 games. To make matters even worse, he broke his ankle on the first practice where he was promoted to Merrimack's top line.
He was eager to get back on the ice with his teammates the following year. COVID hit and the college shut down. Seyfert returned to his Pennsylvania home. Instead of training and rehabbing with Merrimack strength coach Mike Kamal, he was at his home lifting weights and putting in the effort to get back on the ice.
But just two practices into the following year, he tore his labrum which put him on the shelf for the entire 2020-21 season. He never appeared in a game.
No one outside of the Merrimack locker room knew at the time, but that wasn't the only adversity he was facing.
In November of 2020, shortly after his labrum tear, Seyfert's father Jeffrey was diagnosed with Stage 5 kidney failure. He needed a transplant.
Almost a year to the day - Nov. 12, 2021 - Seyfert was on the ice at Alfond Arena in Maine. It was just his fourth game back after missing almost two full years due to a pair of injuries.
When he was walking out to the Merrimack team bus, his phone wouldn't stop ringing. The Warriors just lost that game in overtime to the Black Bears, blowing a two-goal lead.
"I wasn't in the best mood," Seyfert said. "I had a bunch of missed calls and I wasn't really paying attention to my phone. I was frustrated with how the game ended. But then I got a FaceTime call and I figured it was pretty important. I picked up the call and I could tell something was going on. Everyone was smiling ear-to-ear. They told me that my dad was getting a live donor, which was absolutely amazing. It was like two cinder blocks were sitting on my chest, and someone lifted them off. It was such a relief."
Two weeks later, Seyfert scored his first goal in two years against Union.
"I give a lot of credit to my teammates," he said. "They got me to the rink every day. They made it easier. They knew what I was going through, and not many other people did. Being as close as we are as a team, that's what pushed me to keep going and be there every single day. My teammates and my coaches were there for me every step of the way. If it wasn't for them, to be honest, I don't know if I would still be playing right now.."
Seyfert's teammates were there for him just as much as he was there for them. Last season, when he missed the entire year due to the torn labrum, he was in the stands for every game. He was often the loudest one inside the empty Lawler Arena.
"Just being around the locker room and being around the boys helped," he said. "Of course, it's hard not being able to help on the ice.
“Being recognized and being part of an award that is way bigger than myself is a true honor and I couldn't be more thankful."
Seyfert said that he's returning to Merrimack for his fifth season next year. It's possible a medical waiver could even give him an additional year of eligibility after that.
"We have unfinished business," he said. "I feel like I have unfinished business too, with the injuries. I want to come back and make a big impact for our team."