The 4-by-8 foot holding cells in the basement of the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, police station hold nothing more than a metal bed and toilet.

Nick Cousins, 19, and one of the Flyers’ top prospects, sat alone in one of those cells for 12 hours last August, after he and two junior hockey teammates were charged in the sexual assault of a woman.

“That was probably the worst,” Cousins told the Courier-Post in his first public discussion of the charges, eventually dropped. “I had no cell phone, no one to talk to. I had to just sit there by myself and realize what was happening, realize what could happen. So many thoughts were going through my mind as to what’s going to happen. It was tough emotionally.”

Coaches had told Cousins he had some growing up to do, but he’d never really been in any trouble aside from missing a team curfew.

Sitting in that Ontario cell, Cousins kept telling himself that he and his friends were guilty of nothing other than putting themselves in a bad situation.

But would the legal system work?

He could only hope and pray.

Cousins spent a lot of time thinking about the shame he knew he had brought upon his parents and brother, and his two hockey families — the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and the Flyers.

"You know, it's sort of embarrassing myself, the Soo Greyhounds, the Flyers and even my family the most," Cousins said. "They had to go to work the next day. I said that to my brother. They had to continue on with their lives."

Early on, Cousins had one burden lifted when Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren phoned to tell him the organization would support him through the legal process.