By Ryan McCracken on January 11, 2019.
Medicine Hat Tigers winger Bryan Lockner will make his return from injury just in time to host his former franchise tonight at the Canalta Centre.
While there aren’t too many familiar faces remaining on the Regina Pats roster, Lockner says he always seems to get a bit more fired up to take on the team the traded him away at last year’s deadline— especially when the opportunity comes after being held off the ice for three games with a concussion.
“That week off kind of killed me, it’s never fun being on the sidelines,” said Lockner, who will likely join a line with Elijah Brown and new centre Brett Kemp — acquired from the Edmonton Oil Kings in exchange for winger Josh Williams Thursday. “I think it’s going to be fun for me, especially being against my former team. I’m going to be really excited to get back out there.”
Lockner suffered the concussion after hitting his head on the ice in a fight with Lethbridge Hurricanes defenceman Ty Prefontaine on Dec. 30. In the three games since, he’s been forced to watch as fellow forwards Hayden Ostir and Ryan Chyzowski suffered injuries of their own.
Ostir joined Lockner on the shelf when he injured his knee in a collision with Kootenay Ice defenceman Martin Bodak on Jan. 4, then centre Ryan Chyzowski suffered a laceration above the inside of his knee in a road loss to the Calgary Hitmen the following afternoon.
“It’s always tough, but it’s that time of the year where we’ve been going for a while,” said Lockner. “It’s a grind on our bodies and I think those injuries have caught up with us for a little, but I think we’ll be fine.”
Tigers assistant coach Joe Frazer says Chyzowski will only miss a few more games, while Ostir is expected to remain on the shelf for the better part of a month.
“Hopefully we’ll get Ryan back next week for that Wednesday game but we don’t want to rush it — hopefully next Wednesday, but maybe that weekend. Ostir is still hopefully three-to-four weeks only,” said Frazer, adding there is a risk for Chyzowski to re-open the wound. “It’s one of those things where you’ve just got to take your time. The swelling has gone down, the pain is decreasing, which is good, you just have to make sure it heals well.”
The Tigers called up affiliate forward Nick McCarry following Ostir’s injury, and Frazer says he will remain with the team for at least the weekend.
“He’s a very quick, skilled guy. We liked what we saw in Calgary and this is a great opportunity for him this weekend,” said Frazer. “We’re only going to have 11 forwards so he will hopefully get 11 or 12 minutes on the ice.”
While the Tigers had a five-game losing streak snapped with Sunday’s 4-3 loss in Calgary, the run built up a nine-point cushion for a playoff spot while forcing Medicine Hat back into the fight for a third consecutive Central Division banner.
The Tigers have gone 9-2-0-0 since falling 4-1 to the Wheat Kings in Brandon on Dec. 4, a loss that Frazer says served as a turning point for the surge to come.
“We had a meeting with the captains and ever since then you can just tell the team building has increased,” he said, adding a some line juggling and some off-ice bonding helping reinvigorate the roster. “The activities away from the rink to get that brotherhood or family mindset together have really stepped up. I think that’s really transitioned to the ice and I think you can see it in how we’re playing more like a team.”
Tigers defenceman Linus Nassen added that camaraderie was felt in full force after returning from the Christmas break and stringing together those five straight wins in a grueling eight-day span.
“That was huge for us,” said Nassen. “We were in and out of a playoff spot so we really needed the wins. We’re working hard as a team. When a few guys got injured we didn’t care about that, we just played with the guys we had and stuck to our game plan.”
The Tigers and Pats hit the ice at 7:30 p.m.
You must be logged in to post a comment.