CRANBERRY TWP — His divorce from ice hockey was forced.
But it enabled Dan Bezila to fall in love with in-line.
The 2012 Seneca Valley graduate was forced to give up high school hockey after his freshman season when he had spinal fusion story due to scoliosis.
“The curvature in my spine was at 46 when I was 11 years old. It had progressed to 62 degrees by the time I was 16,” Bezila said. “My spine was curving farther away and I had to get corrective surgery.”
He was captain of the Raiders' freshman hockey team and led the squad in goals and assists. He had been playing competitive hockey since age 6.
Bezila played alongside his two closest childhood friends — Cole Bondo and Connor Dunning — and helped the Raiders win their first division title in ice hockey during that freshman season.
“It was a fairy-tale ending, and I am truly blessed to have it happen to me,” Bezila said.
But he was done.
“They put 20 screws up the middle of my spine to keep it in place,” Bezila said. “The doctors told me any hard hit could do serious damage.
“I played lacrosse since fifth grade and had to give that up, too. But right before I had my surgery, I remember sitting in my basement watching NHL Network. I realized I would never play that game again.”
So he had to find a substitute.
And along came in-line.
Bezila had only played in-line hockey a couple of times — never in league play — before joining Seneca Valley's team his sophmore year.
During his senior season, he scored 36 goals and added 20 assists for 56 points in 19 games, leading the entire Western Pennsylvania league in scoring.
“There's no body checking in in-line hockey, so there's not much risk to my playing,” Bezila said. “Once I adjusted to the style of play, it became a lot of fun.
“Any kind of hockey works for me.”
Now a nursing major at Duquesne University, Bezila played on the Dukes' Tier II in-line hockey team as a freshman this year. The team finished 13-3, won its division and claimed the Western Pa. Collegiate Roller Hockey League title.
Bezila scored 14 goals and added nine assists this season. He scored five goals in the best-of-three championship series against CCAC South.