Considering such injuries can be career-threatening, Colton Sissons counts himself, in many ways, fortunate to have missed only 14 games.
After sitting out nearly five weeks with a concussion-like symptoms, the Kelowna Rockets captain has been cleared to return to the lineup Friday night in Vancouver against the Giants.
“I don’t think the timing could really be any better for me, I was hoping I’d be able to get a couple of games in at the end of the regular season and get my legs under me before the playoffs,” said Sissons, who has 26 goals and 41 points in 56 games.
“(The concussion) concerned me a bit, but I always had confidence that I wouldn’t be out for too long. I know how serious injuries like this can be, so I’m happy to be back now and ready to get back out there and help the team.”
The timing of their captain’s return couldn’t be much better for the Rockets either, as the club is is in the process of ramping up for the post-season and a tough first-round opponent—either Tri-City or Portland.
Assistant coach Ryan Cuthbert said Sissons’ absence left a void in the Rockets dressing room and on the ice.
“We definitely missed his leadership qualities, just the minutes he plays on the ice, he plays hard all the time,” said Rockets assistant coach Ryan Cuthbert. “He makes it hard for other teams, our guys watch it and they see the example he’s setting.
“It definitely hurts us not having him in the lineup, so we’ll get some character and quality minutes from him when he comes back.”
Sissons suffered the concussion Feb. 11 after taking a hit to the head in a game against the Kamloops Blazers.
He began practicing last week and has been taking part in contact drills for the last couple of days.
Sissons, who also missed time with a concussion in November 2010, hopes such days are behind him for good.
“It’s probably the toughest time of my hockey career, you can’t really do anything about, it’s the worst injury for that,” Sissons added. “You can’t rehab it, you can’t ice it, all you can do is rest and wait.
“It’s also been tough watching the guys and watching them struggle, so hopefully we can get things turned around here.”
And there is more impending good news for the Rockets as veteran forward Spencer Main resumed skating last week and, although he’s not yet involved in contact drills, he could be close to a return.
The 20-year-old Main has been sidelined since Oct. 23 with a concussion and has missed the club’s last 58 games.
“He’s been out a long time, it’s been a long road back, but we’re hopeful he’s not too far away,” Rockets head coach Ryan Huska said of Main’s recovery. “Conditioning is the big challenge for him, getting back in game shape.”
Defenceman Mitchell Chapman (upper body) remains sidelined but could be ready to go for the start of the post-season.
The Rockets will close out the regular season with a home-and-home set this weekend against the Giants—Friday night at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, and Saturday at Prospera Place. Kleowna will open the playoffs on the road on the weekend of March 23.