Throughout his career, Chris Porter has suffered bumps and bruises. But every Friday morning when coach Dave Hakstol asks hurt players whether they are in or out for a weekend series, Porter has the same answer. "I've always been able to say that...
Throughout his career, Chris Porter has suffered bumps and bruises.
But every Friday morning when coach Dave Hakstol asks hurt players whether they are in or out for a weekend series, Porter has the same answer.
"I've always been able to say that I'm in for sure," Porter said.
During his four years at UND, the Thunder Bay, Ont., native has never missed a game.
Already the school's record holder for most games played, Porter is taking aim at a larger, more impressive mark during the postseason.
The senior forward is three games away from tying the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's standard for consecutive games played, which was set by Wisconsin's John Johannson (1980-84) and Colorado College's Calvin Elfring (1994-98).
He'll have a shot at reaching that mark (171 straight games) this weekend, if UND's first-round playoff series against Minnesota State-Mankato goes to a decisive third game.
"I didn't know much about (the streak) until the second half of this year," said Porter, who has played in 168 consecutive collegiate games. "I didn't pay much attention to it, but I always pride myself on being ready when I'm called upon."
Porter has done that for years.
In fact, he said the last time he missed one of his team's games was in eighth grade, when he broke an arm. Since then, he's been in the lineup night in and night out at Shattuck-St. Mary's Prep School, at Lincoln of the United States Hockey League and at UND.
"I can tell you this," Hakstol said, "He's had long periods of time where he's played at less than 100 percent. You have to be in great physical condition to play through some of his injuries and you have to be mentally tough enough to do it. That, to me, says a lot about his toughness and character."
Porter has never been one to shy away from contact.
Steve Johnson, who coached Porter with the Lincoln Stars, said the winger's ability to forecheck, cycle the puck and go in corners make him a difficult player to play against.
"He's always been a good skater," said Johnson, who played at UND from 1984-88. "He shoots the puck well. And when his feet are moving and he's forechecking, he's an extremely tough player."
That nature of his game has led to many bumps and bruises. Porter is hesitant to talk about injuries, but he admits to specific incidents in the past with his shoulder and knee.
"Chris isn't the type of guy to go around the locker room and make sure everyone knows he's hurt," UND junior Kyle Radke said. "There are times he's hurt and he's battling something and nobody knows about it."
Porter said: "I've been real lucky that I haven't had any major injuries. There have been a few times when I felt like I wasn't sure I would be able to go, but our trainers do a tremendous job getting us ready."
Iron man off the ice
UND annually has a dryland training competition and the winner is dubbed the "Iron man."
Appropriately, Porter has won the competition for the last three years. Hakstol said he's not sure if that has ever been done before.
"It starts with preseason conditioning," Hakstol said. "He's dedicated himself over the summers to getting ready. The important thing isn't winning the Iron man. The important thing is being in the type of physical condition where you can play the whole season without injuries."
Porter said his off-ice regiment is prepared by UND trainers.
It involves hockey-specific weight lifting, sprints and distance runs. Porter began his intense training while following around Zach Parise at Shattuck-St. Mary's and it has picked up in recent years in Grand Forks.
"He's our been our Iron man off the ice three years in a row," Radke said, "and he's our iron man on the ice, too.
"The kid is in great shape. He works hard on and off the ice and he's always doing what's best for the team. He's really a competitor and his games played show it."
Porter, the team captain, will play his final games in Ralph Engelstad Arena this weekend. And his career at UND will come to an end within a month.
He said his highlights include winning the MacNaughton Cup as a freshman, the Broadmoor Trophy as a junior and qualifying for a pair of NCAA Frozen Fours. But he's quick to add that he hopes the biggest highlight is yet to come.
What would it take for him to miss out on it?
"It would have to be something very major. . . . where they wouldn't let me play," Porter said.