Thursday, December 31, 2009

Robbie Bina makes ECHL All-Star roster

By Anthony Fenech

Thursday, Dec. 31, 2009 | 7:32 p.m.

Robbie Bina is beating the odds.

Just five years removed from an injury that left his playing career in doubt, the undersized Wranglers defenseman has paved a road to recovery that now leads to the ECHL All-Star Game.

"It's great to be chosen," Bina said. "There are going to be a lot of great players and I'm lucky to be there, it's an exciting thing."

Bina has played 21 games for the Wranglers while spending a short period of time with the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League. He ranks fifth among league defenseman with 14 assists and eighth with 18 points in 21 games.

"The season has been going good," said Bina. "I'm getting points and just trying to help out the team in whichever way I can."

Listed at 5-foot-8, he is the shortest Wranglers but you wouldn't necessarily be able to tell thanks to his hard-nosed, smart play on the ice.

The 26-year-old Bina received the news of his all-star selection over the phone Wednesday from head coach Ryan Mougenel. Bina will be starting for the National Conference alongside Ontario Reign defenseman David Walker.

"I wasn't really expecting it," he said. "I was just kind of sitting around and got the call that I was chosen. It should be a good time."

This year's All-Star Game will be held in Ontario, Calif., hosted by the Reign.

It's Bina's first all-star game appearance since he first started playing organized hockey at age 4, and it represents the hard work and determination that stemmed from a March night in 2005.

The hit took place in the Fighting Sioux's Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five playoff game against Denver. Bina, a sophomore at the time, was hit from behind by Denver's Geoff Paukovich.

The hit damaged vertebrae in Bina's neck and required surgery to remove one vertebrae and repair two others.

"I was a little nervous," he said about the aftermath of the injury. "But the doctor was positive and it was a long road to recovery but I stuck to it."

He missed the next season and made an impactful return two years later, scoring 32 points in 43 games as North Dakota advanced to the Frozen Four before being eliminated by Boston College in the semifinals.

"It was tough," he said of the year off. "But it might have helped out because I finally realized my love for the game."

"It's all about going out there, working hard, battling for everything and not backing down."

Roster report: Effective Wednesday, forward Ryan Weston has been loaned to AHL San Antonio. Weston totaled 12 points in 15 games with Las Vegas, tallying five goals and seven assists.

"I just tell myself to keep working hard," Weston said. "If I do, good things will follow, whether its in Vegas or otherwise."

He made his season debut Nov. 20 after a month and a half rehabbing a torn MCL he had injured during San Antonio's training camp.

"I wouldn't be up here if it wasn't for my teammates," he said. "They've been great this year."

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