For two members of the Prince George Cougars, life's been a bit fuzzy in recent weeks.
Jordan Harris and Jari Erricson both suffered concussions prior to the Christmas break - Harris while playing with the Prince Albert Mintos on Dec. 13 and Erricson while playing with the Cougars - and haven't played since. Harris suffered his head trauma when he was checked from behind during the game, but Erricson's problems didn't appear until the following week, making it more difficult to pinpoint what led to his brain injury.
Harris said the recovery period from a concussion is frustrating.
"It's one of those things that you can't really do anything about," said Harris. "You kind of have to just sit at home in the dark and rest. It's probably one of the toughest injuries a player can have because you can't do any physical fitness as long as your concussion is around."
Western Hockey League players need to pass a computerized test before receiving medical clearance to resume physical activity again. Some players return to a team's lineup within a few days but for others it can take weeks or months. Even after a player is cleared to practice or play there's no guarantees.
"I skated once over the Christmas break for half an hour and I got a headache so I didn't skate at all for a while," said Harris, who arrived in Prince George on Jan. 14 to finish the season with the Cougars.
"[The week of Jan. 7] I rode the bike and everything was fine and a couple days later I skated and got another headache, so I didn't skate until I got to Prince George." Harris and Erricson skated together at CN Centre while the Cougars where on a three-game Alberta road trip last weekend, and for Harris things appeared to be looking good.
"I did a workout after and I felt so-so," he said. "There was a little headache but nothing too major. Nothing to worry about."
Harris said it's the third time he was diagnosed with a hockey-related concussion, having had one during the playoffs last season while playing with the Mintos and - a minor one - when he was playing bantam hockey.
While Harris has had to deal with headaches, Erricson's post-concussion symptoms have been a lot different. During a skate on Jan. 9 the 18-year-old needed several breaks at the bench before leaving the ice for good.
"When he skated last week he actually lost his vision," said Harris. "I just get headaches whenever my heart rate gets up there. We're kind of talking back and forth and comparing things."
Last week, Erricson was back skating, alone before his Cougars teammates began practice, and at midweek, said he was feeling good.
Harris said the on and off symptoms has made his recovery frustrating.
"It's kind of worrying about when you're going to get back in the lineup, if you are going to get back in the lineup, you never really know," said Harris. "Hopefully my concussion cooperates with me."