INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Kansas City Mavericks defenseman Justin Woods is one of the hardest working players on the ice.
The 25-year-old Fairbanks, Alaska, native arrived on the team in July. Justin was a fantastic free agent acquisition for the Mavericks. He scored 20 points last year for the Jacksonville Iceman on nine goals and 11 assists. He's been an asset for the team since his arrival on and off the ice. Coaches and players alike appreciate his hardhat and lunch pale mentality.
"He's always the first one (there) in the morning," Mavericks Assistant Coach Kohl Schultz said. "He gets his workout in. He takes care of himself as a pro. He always checks in with [Head Athletic Trainer] Nick [Potter]. He's always checking in with coaches. He does everything the right way."
The effort has helped Woods have another very solid season so far. He has 19 points on four goals and 15 assists in 28 games so far this season for the Mavericks.
Hockey is clearly Woods' life. However, he has a new lease on life following his battle with a rare cancer called Ewing's Sarcoma.
The cancer was only discovered after the end of his freshman year at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks in 2014. A cyst was removed from his right knee when doctor's discovered the abnormality and diagnosed him with Ewing's Sarcoma. Following the discovery, he underwent nine months of chemotherapy and one month of radiation treatment.
The treatment took his hair and his appetite. But, he said it didn't take his resolve and his will to live.
"I had a few thoughts that I might not return to the ice," Woods said. "But, I never once had the thought where I was like, 'Wow, I might lose this battle too to Ewing's Sarcoma. I might lose this battle too.'"
Woods' cancer went into remission in February 2015 and he was cancer free. He still undergoes regular checkups to make sure his cancer has not returned. It's been nearly five years since he's been in remission. His final cancer checkup will be in January 2020.
"Five years, if you get up to that point, you're considered cured," Woods said. "And so, it's a very very big stepping stone for me. And so, hopefully I try and stay healthy and just go there with a good attitude and we'll see what happens."
The Mavericks organization has fully supported Justin and his continued recovery efforts. And, they're hopeful that he'll receive the final piece of good news that he's been waiting for.