It was a long time between games for Evan Bloodoff.
The 19-year-old forward suited up this week for the Kelowna Rockets for the first time since the 2009 Memorial Cup in Rimouski, Que.
Bloodoff, who underwent surgery last September to repair a damaged ACL and meniscus in his right knee, took a regular shift during Wednesday night’s loss to the Hurricanes in Lethbridge.
For the Castlegar product, it was good to be back on the ice after a long and arduous road to recovery—even though there will be plenty of rust to wear off in the coming weeks.
“It felt really good to be out there again, it’s been a while,” Bloodoff said. “Things were a little bit off, but I just have to keep it simple. My teammates need to be patient with me. I need some time to get back playing again and feeling comfortable.”
Head coach Ryan Huska said the Rockets don’t expect Bloodoff’s game to return to normal overnight. In fact, Huska believes it could be the 2010-11 campaign before the Western Hockey League club sees the Evan of old.
“He’s going to have some challenges getting his timing back, making his reads, and just getting back into the flow of the game,” said Huska. “He just needs to focus on finishing his checks, using his speed and just gradually getting himself back to the way he was. To be quite honest, it’s probably going to be next season before we see the complete Evan. This is not an easy game to just step back into when you’ve been out for as long as he has.”
While Bloodoff was looking to get his feet under him again, the Rockets were going down to defeat for the fifth straight time on Wednesday. Kelowna out shot the Hurricanes 39-29 but came up short 3-2 in a shootout.
In Huska’s eyes, it was a lackluster effort by the Rockets who have scored just nine times during the losing streak.
“We need to find a way to generate more goals,” said Huska. “In the losses against Seattle and Portland, we had lots of shots and I liked our effort in both games. But against Lethbridge, even though we out shot them, I didn’t like our game very much. We need to show a lot more urgency and get out of this losing streak we’re in.”
The Rockets will visit the Edmonton Oil Kings Friday, then will drop into the Pengrowth Saddledome Saturday to face the Calgary Hitmen.
The Rockets (29-29-2-4) share sixth spot in the Western Conference with the Chilliwack Bruins (29-29-1-5), while the Kamloops Blazers sit just two points back in eighth place.