Bruce Hamilton has seen the injury bug grab hold of Kelowna Rockets’ teams of the past.
But the sheer numbers and nature of the injuries in 2017-18 has been more disconcerting than usual for the Western Hockey League club’s president and GM.
“You expect bumps and bruises but you don’t expect as many of the types of injuries as we’re getting,” he said. “We’ve had a broken leg come into play, a broken hand, and other strange things happening, like with our goaltending.
“It’s getting frustrating, we haven’t really had a full lineup since early in the year,” he added, “so hopefully we can get through this stretch, get some guys back and get healthy before the playoffs.”
With a handful of Rockets already sidelined, forward Kole Lind was the latest victim after taking an open-ice hit from Victoria Royals’ defenceman Ralph Jarratt during the second period of Wednesday’s game at Prospera Place.
After laying on the ice for several minutes, Lind, a 31-goal scorer this season, had to be helped off by a pair of Rockets’ teammates.
On Tuesday, Hamilton said he expected the Rockets to be without the Vancouver Canucks’ draft pick on a week-to-week basis.
“It was a dangerous hit,” Hamilton said of the check from Jarratt. “We’ll wait to see what the league decides about it.”
Also on Wednesday, rookie goaltender James Porter left the game in the third period after being landed on by Royals’ forward Igor Grishakov.
Porter had just returned to the lineup last Friday after being sidelined since Jan. 13 with an upper body injury.
Porter, Brodan Salmond and rookie Roman Basran have all served time on the injury list this season.
“It’s been bizarre,” Hamilton said of the Rockets’ injury troubles in goal, “nothing like I’ve seen.”
On the upside, Hamilton said Liam Kindree (lower body) is close to returning, while defenceman James Hilsendager continues to make progress from an upper body injury suffered Jan. 30 against Medicine Hat.
If all goes as planned, Nolan Foote (hand, 4 to 5 weeks) will be pronounced ready to return before the post season.
But for now, with half of the busiest month of the season still to go, Hamilton said it’s all hands on deck.
“The guys that have been playing through this have got to keep it going,” said Hamilton. “When we’re healthy, we’ve got four guys sitting out, but right now we’re using pretty much everybody.
“We’ve found ways to win,” he said, “now going into a real stretch here,we’re going to have to find ways to keep doing that.”
The Rockets (34-17-2-1) who edged Victoria 5-4 Wednesday in Kelowna, lead the Royals by one point atop the BC Division.
On Wednesday night, the Rockets will host the Red Deer Rebels. Face off at Prospera Place is 7:05 p.m.
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