Murray • Willy Fobair sat in the bleachers at Salt Lake County Ice Center, an unfamiliar seat for a gifted high-school hockey player.
He couldn't take it much longer. His team was getting pounded.
"There were a couple of points in the game where I got pissed and had to walk out, clear my head," Fobair said. "Watching them lose and knowing that I could have been out there but I wasn't, it sucked. Especially because it was over something so stupid."
Fobair, a senior at Murray High School, tore his anterior cruciate ligament at the beginning of his junior season, forcing him to miss time with his high-school team and club team.
He returned to the Spartans for the first two playoff games of 2011, but when he arrived at the rink for the third, he was told he could not participate because of an eligibility issue related to unpaid club-team dues.
USA Hockey governs both leagues, meaning Fobair was powerless to reverse the decision.
"The guy that was in charge of that club team said, 'You owe me X amount of dollars and I'm going to make it so you can't play anywhere until I get it,' " Murray coach Alan Swenson said.
Fobair's talent soon became a curse.
"It was basically, 'Come play for us. We'll worry about the finances later,' " Swenson said.
Fobair remained patient, working out in his backyard on some faux ice he made out of clear plastic floor mats.
He still attended most team practices and games.
"He's smart on and off the ice," said senior Dimitri Garzarelli, who plays on Fobair's line. "He's basically another coach. He's always there to help you, and he's never negative either. I love hearing advice from him."
The Spartans still finished as the third-place team in the state last season.
"We were really talented and we did extremely well, but you always have to wonder how good it could have been with a player like that," senior Tyler Richins said.
In Fobair's first game back last summer, he took the opening faceoff and slid past a few defenders.
The puck was in the back of the net 20 seconds later. He did the same earlier this season against Sky View, but it only took 6 seconds.
Asked what changes for his team with Fobair, Swenson said simply, "We have a goal scorer."
Garzarelli and Richins said they like being held to the same lofty expectations as Fobair, and they're finding themselves open much more often as opposing defenses continue to key on him.
Murray entered the week 8-2-1, and Fobair has 22 goals. Another run at the state championship trophy awaits in February.
"I won't be completely content because I lost a whole year," Fobair said. "I'll never get back the opportunity to play with some of my best friends again, but winning state would definitely help fill a big part of that hole."