Brigette Lacquette knows all about the long road back from injury.
Her injury was painful but the grind of rehab — slow and unpredictable — may have been worse.
The ordeal began in December 2019 when the blue-liner went down after absorbing a slapshot to an ankle during a skills workout. A fractured fibula was diagnosed and it was suggested the injury would require about a six-week recovery.
Ten years earlier, the Manitoba product had broken the same bone and a metal plate had been inserted to promote healing.
"I still have the plate in there and (the puck) hit me right where the screw was, so it kind of just fractured underneath the screw," the 28-year-old said Thursday from Calgary, where 35 of Canada's top female hockey players have convened this week for a pre-world championship training camp.
Six weeks after the injury, all was not well.
"It was tough," said Lacquette, who hails from Mallard but is now based in Calgary. "I could run as much as I wanted off the ice but when I got on the ice I wanted do the same and to get that strength back in my leg was pretty tough. I started to start feeling myself again on the ice around, honestly, maybe late November or December.
"It took a while to get back feeling good, like I can do everything and just feeling myself again."
Lacquette paid an immediate toll.
A key member of Canada's silver medallists at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, she went straight from rehabbing the injury to participating in the Canada-USA Rivalry Series.
The hallmarks of her game — speed with an off-the-charts offensive flair — weren't up to normal levels and she was left off Canada's roster for the 2020 world championships. The worlds were eventually wiped out by the pandemic but they are back on tap in 2021, slated for Halifax and Truro, N.S., April 7-17.
"I wasn't skating at all and then went to the Rivalry Series and it just wasn't ideal," said Lacquette. "But it was still nice to get back on the ice again last year. The pandemic hit and I was still trying to overcome the injury and I had tendinitis in my Achilles... so it was just a lot.
"But the last 10, 11 months — it's been pretty good in terms of training. I've got running again and got to do all the same stuff that I used to do... We haven't been doing full teams practices, so I kind of got used to skating with only three people."
Team Canada's training camp began Monday with sessions limited to three players in a pod until Thursday night, which was to be the squad's first full practice.
Sessions continue until Jan. 30.
Twelve players, many of them currently playing with their NCAA teams, were invited but unable to attend this week's camp. Otherwise, the routine of the pandemic era has been fairly predictable.
Two negative COVID-19 tests per player were required before full practices were allowed and Lacquette and the other 34 players will be tested six more times before they're done.
"I think we've pretty much expected everything, obviously with COVID and protocols," said Lacquette. "I'm really excited that we're here in camp and I get to see the girls even though I haven't really seen a lot of them; we're only kind of confined to our own groups and then our (hotel) rooms."
This week in Alberta, Lacquette's competition for a roster spot includes Jocelyne Larocque of Ste. Anne and 10 others.
Her goals are simple.
"I can only control what I do, so keeping a positive mindset and just focusing on my game and (I want) to contribute to the team in any way possible," she said.
Lacquette said she has fine-tuned her game since the Olympics.
"I've always kind of been known for my offensive ability and my shot and moving the puck but obviously being more defensively responsible and taking care of the defence first rather than thinking offence," she said.
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.