Three breaks give New Hampshire’s Andrew Poturalski a leg to stand on

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The year Andrew Poturalski was supposed to be drafted by an NHL team he broke his leg.

He broke it the year before.

And the year after.

Same leg, three breaks in three different places, three different times.

“It’s kind of a funny story,” the sophomore forward from New Hampshire said. “But yeah, it makes you look at things differently.”

Now healthy, Poturalski forms one half of the most dynamic scoring duos in college hockey with a great story to tell.

His talents — along with the nation’s assist leader, linemate Tyler Kelleher — will be on display Friday night on ASN when the Wildcats meet Boston University for the first time this season.

“He can put the puck in the net from anywhere,” Kelleher said of Poturalski, whose 22 goals rank second in the country and his 47 points trail only Michigan’s Kyle Connor. “I like to look for him because he knows how to score and we help each other out. He’ really a strong kid with a  hard shot and he’s good at everything. He’s fast, has shifty hands and he’s smart.”

The latter came in part from being sidelined with the broken legs.

“You get so bored watching others skate and practice for six weeks and wanting to be out there that you just start to pick up on little things,” Poturalski said. “In a way, it’s all helped me. I don’t take playing for granted and not being drafted gives me the chance to pick a team where I think I’ll fit in best. It’s always been my 100 percent goal to play in the NHL.”

So how did he get to be one of the top scorers in college hockey? Rehab, rehab, rehab.

The first time he broke his leg he broke the femur on a knee-to-knee hit.

The second time, the following year, it was his fibula when he was trapped against the boards.

The third time his ankle came out of place and he suffered a spiral fracture of his femur when his skate got caught in the ice.

“That one hurt,” Poturalski said. “It was after practice and we were just screwing around and when I got tackled my skate just caught.”

The good news is he’s been injury-free since joining the Wildcats. The bad news is for as much individual success he and Kelleher have had, UNH is just 10-15-5 overall and 4-9-5 in Hockey East play.

BU (17-9-5, 10-5-3 conference) is looking to lock up a first-round bye and a win Friday would be a huge help. UNH needs the win to climb into a home-ice advantage for the first round.

“We need to get better on defense as a team,” Kelleher said. “It’s not the goalie and the defensemen, it’s the back-checking from all of our lines.”

While diminutive at 5-6, Kelleher’s quickness and play-making skills rank him among the nation’s best. His 34 assists lead the nation.

His linemate and friend happens to be one of his biggest fans.

“I never really see him take a hit because he is so shifty,” Poturalski said. “We have a great chemistry because we like to play the same way. We’re more about puck possession and not dump-and-chase hockey. Tyler’s vision is unbelievable. He makes passes without looking at you and he can score. He’s just a great playmaker.”

Kelleher looks at his size, or lack thereof, as a positive. Also undrafted, he went to the New Jersey Devils training camp this summer and has NHL aspirations as well.

“I look at my size as an advantage,” he said. “I can get in and out of spots quicker than I could if I were bigger. There’s a few guys (in the NHL) my size. I don’t see it as a problem.”

Above: New Hampshire’s Andrew Poturalski said rehabbing from three different broken legs helped him improve as a player. (Courtesy Gil Talbot)

Dave Dondoneau

Dave Dondoneau is a freelance writer based in Honolulu