Then came a most violent scrimmage, into which “Just” Smith plunged with the utmost recklessness, as though determined to wipe out all his former mistakes in some brilliant playing. Suddenly the referee’s whistle called the game. Something had happened to bring about a stoppage of play. A fellow was down on the ice, with half a dozen others bending over him.
It was “Just” Smith, and he was apparently badly injured in the bargain. A doctor was speedily called, who pronounced it a fracture of the leg, and decided that the player would have to be taken home immediately for a physician’s attention.
As “Just” Smith passed his captain, being carried by two husky players to a waiting car that would convey him home, he actually had the nerve to grin in Hugh’s face. A suspicion came into the latter’s mind to the effect that the player had purposely taken terrible risks in the hope that he might be disabled, so that a substitute could be put in his place; though, of course, Hugh tried to banish this thought as soon as it gripped him.
“Get your substitute, Hugh, or else we’ll have to drop a man!” called the Belleville captain; and Hugh glanced apprehensively around; then broke through the dense crowd, and seized upon a skater who had been hovering near.
It was Nick Lang!
“We need another player, Nick!” Hugh exclaimed eagerly; “and I want you to help get the team out of this nasty hole, for the sake of good old Scranton High. So don’t say you won’t, but come along, and do your level best to bring us out ahead!”
NICK MAKES GOOD——CONCLUSION
The look upon the face of Nick Lang when Hugh spoke in this way told the leader of the Scranton Hockey Seven he would fight with might and main to turn the tables on the winning Belleville team.
Nick’s hour had struck!
The long-awaited opportunity to prove the genuine nature of the change that had taken place within his heart had arrived. He was going into play as one of the Regulars; he had been especially picked for that important service among twenty likely lads who only too gladly would have accepted a chance to distinguish themselves in such an emergency.
Accordingly Nick had a large letter S fastened to his jersey, to mark the side on which he fought, so that the referee might easily know where he belonged. One word from the coach as he strode forward Nick would never forget as long as he lived; it was a word of confidence; and, remembering how Mr. Leonard had at one time detested and distrusted this boy, it meant everything to Nick.
The game started again after the lapse of seven minutes.
Belleville considered that they had “the edge” on the visitors, and immediately went at it as though bent on adding considerably to the number of goals marked to their credit. But almost immediately it was discovered that the infusion of new blood had somehow altered the complexion of things greatly.