SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Lindsay Eastwood, captain of the Syracuse women’s ice hockey team, picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and darted up the left-side boards. She deked the Northeastern defender and fired a shot on goal. The puck snuck in right under the goalie’s blocker, sending her father, David Eastwood, into a frenzy. Seconds later the public address announcer tells the crowd, “Lindsay Eastwood has just scored her 50th career point.”
In between cheers David said, “Oh wow! I should’ve known that.”
David drove four hours from his home in Ottawa to see this game. In fact, David does for all of Lindsay’s games whether they are in the friendly confines of the Tennity Ice Pavilion or on the road. Even when the Syracuse won its first conference championship in program history last season, earning a spot in the NCAA tournament, David was there.
“Last season we drove 14 hours to Wisconsin from Ottawa in the car straight to watch her play in the final eight,” David said. “It was really something.”
He added, “I don’t take being a hockey dad for granted. Actually, I can’t because these moments almost never happened.”
Right before Lindsay was supposed to begin her freshman year at Syracuse University, she was diagnosed with a blood condition called lupus anticoagulant, which means her blood clots easily and Lindsay had to use blood thinners.
While she was taking blood thinners, Lindsay was not allowed to play contact sports, which included hockey.
“It was terrible,” Lindsay said. “It was like the world was ending for me because the first thing I think about is, ‘I can’t play hockey anymore and I probably have to be on blood thinners the rest of my life,’ and I knew that meant there’s no more hockey. I think my dad may have taken it harder than I did.”
While Lindsay could not play hockey, she still wanted to play college sports. Over the summer, she joined “Row to the Podium Canada,” an organization that takes already established athletes and turns them into Olympic-caliber rowers. After a few months with Row to the Podium, she tried out for the women’s rowing team at Syracuse.
“It wasn’t hockey, but it was the silver lining of this situation,” she said. “Rowing kept me in good shape, so it was an easy transition back to hockey when the clots went away.”
Just as randomly as Lindsay’s blood condition developed, it went away.
“It was an autoimmune disorder.” Lindsay said. “The doctors have no idea how I got it, and they have no idea how it went away. There was a less than five percent chance it would go away, and it did.”
She added, “It was one of the best days of my life. I could finally play hockey again. When my dad found out, the first he did was make sure he could find me ice time, so I’d be ready to go for next season.”
Hockey is also David’s passion. When he was Lindsay’s age, he was a highly touted hockey recruit and received several partial scholarship offers. However, David’s father was not as supportive and told him to stop being a ‘rink rat.’
“I always wanted to make sure the resources, the time, and the effort was there on my part to help our kids,” David said. “I didn’t want them to ever second guess anything they were going to do in their life because they didn’t have the resources or the support from me.”
He never misses one of Lindsay’s games because anyone of them could be her last, he said.
“Your work will always be there. You’ll always be able to get another job. Your kids’ sports and your kids’ activities, never miss it because it could be taken away from you.”