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Rocket Report: Kelowna fights through run of ‘serious injuries’

Click to play video 'Rocket Report Injury Update' Rocket Report Injury Update
Rocket Report Injury Update – Feb 14, 2020

It’s a rare Friday off for the Kelowna Rockets — exactly what the doctor ordered for a team that has been bitten hard by the injury bug.

“We hope this run of serious injuries is coming to an end,” said Rockets general manager Bruce Hamilton.

According to the Rockets, the franchise has lost a total of 117 man-games to injury and illness this season.

“Our belief in our team is still very strong and we have not used the injuries as an excuse. We need to be better and I fully expect us to be better,” Hamilton said.

Click to play video 'Rocket Report Kyle Topping' Rocket Report Kyle Topping
Rocket Report Kyle Topping – Jan 3, 2020

“It hasn’t been scuffs, we have had a number of serious injuries,” Hamilton said.

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It all started early in the season when key veteran Kyle Topping broke his ankle and was forced to have surgery.

Topping actually made a swift recovery and returned to the ice in early January and is just now starting to find his scoring touch.

Dillon Hamaliuk was forced to sit several games due to a virus but has since returned.

Click to play video 'Nolan Foote brings home the gold medal' Nolan Foote brings home the gold medal
Nolan Foote brings home the gold medal – Jan 7, 2020

“We’re finally starting to see a little more out of him,” Hamilton said.

Another Rocket veteran Liam Kindree missed several games in the first half of the season only to return and suffer a broken collarbone in mid-January.

Kindree is currently undergoing rehab for his surgically repaired collarbone with no date yet for a return to the team.

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On top of that, forward Michael Farren is also out while the Rockets follow the CHL’s stringent concussion protocol with him.

Click to play video 'Braintrust Canada opens concussion clinic in Kelowna' Braintrust Canada opens concussion clinic in Kelowna
Braintrust Canada opens concussion clinic in Kelowna – Oct 24, 2018

“We’re waiting on him but those (concussions) are things (where) you walk, you don’t run,” Hamilton said.

Defenceman Sean Comrie is out with a dislocated shoulder and scheduled to see an orthopedic surgeon next week to decide if surgery will be needed.

But perhaps the most costly injury of all this season has been the to team captain Nolan Foote.

Foote is the heart and soul of the Rockets as well as arguably their best player.

Click to play video 'Rockets move Mattson welcome Wedman' Rockets move Mattson welcome Wedman
Rockets move Mattson welcome Wedman – Dec 6, 2019

The Tampa Bay Lightning prospect has been listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury since leaving a game against the Kamloops Blazers in early January.

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Foote, who was drafted in the first round by the Lightning, was evaluated by their medical staff last week and any decision clearing him to play for the Rockets will be made in consultation with the NHL franchise.

“We are hoping to see if I can play Saturday and get into the lineup,” Foote said Thursday before practice.

The decision on Foote’s return is day-to-day, Hamilton said.

Click to play video 'Rocket Report mid-season check in' Rocket Report mid-season check in
Rocket Report mid-season check in – Dec 17, 2019

“I think over these next two days practising and doing that and then seeing how I feel Saturday after morning skate, if we have it, and then go from there,” Foote said.

All these injuries take have taken a serious toll on the Rocket’s record.

Kelowna is currently fourth in the B.C. Division standings with a record of 24-25-1-2 for 51 points, six back of the third-place Vancouver Giants.

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There was some good news for the team on Wednesday as Matthew Wedman and Devin Steffler made a return to the Rockets’ fold.

Click to play video 'Winterhawks dismantle Rockets' Winterhawks dismantle Rockets
Winterhawks dismantle Rockets – Feb 8, 2020

Wedman’s impact was immediate as he scored a hat trick in the Rockets’ 8-3 drubbing of the Tri-City Americans.

Hamilton remains positive, despite an onslaught of negativity on social media, that his team will be ready to host the Memorial Cup in May.

“I’m not a social media guy, but there is all kinds of stuff going on there. Our team will be competitive by the time the cup comes around,” Hamilton said.

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