Lightning defensive prospect and 2008 6th round pick Luke Witkowski is reportedly out with an injury and will miss the inaugral season opener of Fargo Force Friday night when they travel to play the Omaha Lancers. The Force is coached by long time UND head coach Dean Blais. The Force begin the USHL season with an eight game road trip, with their home opener on October 30 against the Sioux Falls Stampede.
Witkowski is credited with with first fighting major in Force team history when he dropped the gloves with Blake Thompson of Sioux Falls in Fargo's first exhibition game.
Lightning prospect followers can breathe a sigh of relief today as the Bolts' highest ranked European prospect, 22 year-old forward Johan Harju, received some positive news regarding the hamstring injury he suffered Monday in Lulea's first practice session for the upcoming season.
Lasse Lundgren, Lulea physiotherapist, indicated that damage is not uncommon for hockey players and expects the left winger to return to the ice in the next few days. The injury was a "rupture" to the hamstring and intends to get Harju running Wednesday or Thursday as part of the usual rehab of injuries such as this. Lundgren said there would be no rush for Harju and that he would be rested for a bit considering the importance of the upcoming season for Lulea.
Harju admitted that he first noticed the hamstring back in July when he was playing land hockey and missed a tackle.
A sixth round pick by the Lightning in the 2007 draft, Harju has scored 32 goals in 106 games over the past two seasons for Lulea in the SEL.
Norrbottens-Kuriren is reporting that Lightning prospect Johan Harju suffered a possible knee injury during an on-ice practice session with Lulea for the upcoming SEL season. Apparently, Harju went to make a turn and felt a snap in the back of his knee. The team is being cautious with the possible injury and Harju left the ice in order to get a medical examination of the knee by a doctor. No further information about the extent of the injury are known at this time.
(Thanks to BP staffer sotnos for the translation help!)
The Tampa Tribuneâ€™s Erik Erlendsson is reporting Jeff Halpern's knee injury he sustained in the USA's 5-4 loss to Canada Tuesday at the World Championships is a ruptured ACL of his right knee in addition to a Grade III sprain to his MCL and a slight tear to the lateral meniscus.
Erlendsson reports the USA captain will wait 4-6 weeks to allow the MCL injury to heal before undergoing reconstructive surgery on the ACL tendon. He is expected to miss 5-6 months of action from the time of the surgery on the ACL, which means the earliest Halpern could return to action would be late December or early January.
Lightning 2006 7th rounder and University of Massachusetts-Amherst junior defenseman John Wessbecker has not played since November 30 due to an undisclosed injury. According to the New England Daily Collegian, quoting recently re-signed UMass head coach Don Cahoon, there is no timetable for Wessbecker's return to the UMass lineup, and Cahoon is not going to hurry him back.
"He's definitely out for the foreseeable future. There's no way of knowing exactly how long because of the type of injury," Cahoon told the Collegian.
Any specifics regarding Wessbecker's injury have not been released.
Wessbecker has 3 assists in 14 games this year for the Minutemen, and is 1-6-7 in his 88 game collegiate career. Wessbecker, from The Blake School in Minnesota, was All-Conference and won the Hobey Baker Award for character in his senior year of high school.
According to the Lightning, Everett Silvertips defenseman Dane Crowley will miss both of Everett's games this weekend due to injuries sustained from a blindside hit Tuesday night against Kamloops.
Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald reports Crowley received a facial cut and a concussion on a hit from Blazers defenseman Mike Gauthier. Patterson states there was no penalty called on the play, but "the Tips claim it was a hit to the head from behind and are weighing whether to send a video of the hit to the league for review."
Crowley has 7 goals and 5 assists for 12 points in 23 games for Everett this season.
Erik Erlendsson of the Trib reports that Bolt Prospects alumni Ryan Craig, who is recovering from a back injury, may be sent down to Norfolk of the AHL for a conditioning stint before returning to the lineup for the Lightning. Craig last played in the AHL during the 2005-2006 campaign when he scored 12 goals and 22 points in 28 games for the Springfield Falcons.