An ankle injury will keep Mitchell Chapman sidelined for his final WHL season.

Junior career over for Rockets’ Chapman

20-year-old defenceman placed on injured reserve as he awaits ankle surgery

His final season of major junior hockey didn’t turn out at all like Mitchell Chapman had envisioned.

The Kelowna Rockets announced Tuesday the 20-year-old defenceman has been placed on injured reserve for the remainder of his final campaign in the Western Hockey League.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Chapman suffered a high ankle sprain a day before the start of the club’s 2012 training camp and the injury simply hasn’t healed as hoped or expected.

Chapman, who has been dogged by injury on and off throughout his WHL career, is soon expected to have surgery to repair the ankle.

“I’m disappointed I didn’t get to finish off my last year here,” said Chapman. “I’m happy for the team and I would have liked to have been part of that, but injuries happen in hockey and that’s the way it goes sometimes. At the end of the day, I was happy to play in Kelowna and wouldn’t change anything.”

A stay-at-home defenceman, Chapman provided the Rockets with a physical presence on the back end, accumulating 305 penalty minutes in 165 career regular season games.

Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton said Chapman will be missed.

“It’s a huge blow for our organization, losing a player like that,” said Hamilton. “He’s been with us for three full years and missing his 20-year-old season is a tough break for him.”

During his three seasons in Kelowna, Chapman dealt with his share of injuries, including two concussions and a separated shoulder, but each time worked his way back to health and into the lineup.

The ankle sprain, however, proved to be too big of an obstacle for Chapman to overcome.

“I tried to progress, but each time I did, I seemed to regress and it was frustrating for me,” he said. “I did everything I could with the treatments and rehab, I worked as hard as I could to get back and playing, but it just didn’t work out.”

Assuming he undergoes successful surgery, Chapman plans a return to the ice next season, pursuing an opportunity either in professional or college hockey.

But for now, he’ll continue to cheer for his favourite team.

“Obviously I’m going to support the guys here, I’ll just be doing it from the sidelines,” Chapman said. “We have a great team with a chance to go a long way.”

 

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