UVSC hockey player Jeff Jiron is in a select group of athletes.
Some are famous, but most are not.
The members are all athletes who have been written into the volumes of sporting lore with a bizarre plot line. These have all suffered freakish, random on-the-job injuries — hazardous and strange injuries that rarely occur. A club that includes Evander Holyfield, Bill Gramatica, and now the sophomore forward, among many others.
Holyfield, as you will recall, offered up part of his ear as a mid-round snack to Mike Tyson in their infamous boxing match. Grammatica, the NFL kicker for the Arizona Cardinals, tore knee ligaments while celebrating a field goal.
And then there is Jiron.
Before his time at Utah Valley, Jiron played high school hockey, as well as time with the California Northstars, a Midget AAA hockey team in Vacaville, Calif. During a high school match-up, Jiron lost part of his ear when an opposing player’s hockey skate cut it off.
"It cut my whole ear, but not all the way off," Jiron said. "It was kinda just hanging there."
Luckily for the Northstars, and now the Utah Valley hockey team, you don’t need unscathed facial features to play great hockey.
Next game, eight stitches later, Jiron and his repaired "Van Gogh" ear were back on the ice and eventually helped lead his Northstars team to an undefeated championship at the AAA Montreal Mania Tournament.
Playing hockey since he was eight, Jiron’s gritty, perhaps somewhat gruesome experiences helped him develop his blue-collar style of play that this Wolverines team has enjoyed.
Finishing with 24 points in 25 games last season, he received the Wolverine Hard Hat award. Jiron received the appropriately named team award given to the player who just gets the job done both on and off the ice.
And that hat fits just right.
Now in the 2007-08 seasons, it’s same story, different year. He has amassed 18 goals and 34 assists thus far. His ability to get the puck to the people in scoring position, as well as his impact as a physical presence on the ice, has added some volatile fuel for the high scoring engine of the Wolverines’ offense.
The Building Construction major admits that the success of the team this year has had an influence in the building of the future of the hockey program.
"You know, it’s definitely much more attractive for big time players to look at coming to UVSC to play," said Jiron. "We are only in our second year and we are already looking to make a run towards nationals. We are pretty excited."