|Mark Alt traveled with the team to Rochester for this week's games. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey|
Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook
He's been skating with the team for almost four weeks now. Before that, he had been skating in Voorhees, New Jersey with injured Philadelphia Flyers players and the NHL club's healthy scratches.
An awkward fall in a NHL preseason game in a fight against the New Jersey Devils left Mark Alt needing shoulder surgery. He has yet to play in a game this season, but could make his season debut with Lehigh Valley as soon as this week before the 2016 calendar year expires.
"It's always tough being out," Alt said earlier this month. "It's been nice getting back here with the team and getting on the ice with them and skating."
The original timetable for Alt to be fully cleared to return was said to be December 28th, a source close to the situation told Highland Park Hockey back on December 2nd.
He traveled with Lehigh Valley Tuesday up to Rochester, New York where the Phantoms play a pair of road games against the Amerks on Wednesday and Friday night to close out the calendar year.
Alt still isn't entirely sure how it happened. He thinks there was probably some damage that was done previously and the fall he had at the PPL Center on September 28th was the final straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.
"I just kind of fell on it awkward and everything kind of gave way," Alt explained. "It was a tough injury to take at that time of the year, but it's nice to get back on the ice."
After the fight, and subsequent tumble to the ice, Alt initially went to the penalty box. He knew when he got back up that something felt a little strange, but he wasn't really sure what was going on. While in the box, he began fidgeting with his shoulder and seeing how it felt. It was then he realized he had popped his shoulder out of place.
"Something was definitely wrong so I skated off the ice," Alt recalled of that night. "Shoulder popped back in as I was walking off the ice. At that point I knew I was probably going to be done for a little bit and had to wait and see what the results were."
Unfortunately, his shoulder required surgery - which explains why his absence has been as long as it has. Oddly enough, he suffered a similar injury from an awkward fall in a game in Binghamton two years ago.
"Different shoulder, but kind of the similar awkward fall on it," Alt said when asked about the first shoulder injury two years ago. "That first one was a trip so I didn't see it coming and this one I got wrapped up and fell on it funny. Definitely, they're tough injuries and you can't do a whole lot about them."
After his shoulder surgery, Alt rehabbed and had been skating in Voorhees with the injured Philadelphia Flyers players and healthy scratches at their practice facility.
"For the most part, you're kind of on your own rehabbing and skating when you can. It's nice to get back to team practice and feel like you're a part of the team again."
Alt has had some terrible luck with injuries throughout his pro career in the Flyers' organization. Injury woes have admittedly been tough on him, but he's certainly excited to be back on the ice with his teammates and looking forward to getting back into games.
"It's definitely a mental battle. It's part of the game, part of sports in general. You're going to get injuries," Alt said. "Unfortunately mine have come at a string kind of packed together which makes it even more difficult. You have your down time and you're kind of beating yourself a little bit but now that there's light at the end of tunnel and I'm back skating and know that I can get back in shape. I can control those things so it's nice to get back out and be on the ice."