BRANDON, Man. -- High-scoring Calgary Hitmen forward Brandon Kozun says if he has his way he’ll be in the lineup for Saturday’s game against the Moncton Wildcats.
“In my opinion, I think I’ll be ready for sure,” said the Western Hockey League’s leading scorer who had 32 goals and 75 assists in 65 games.
Kozun was injured in the second period of Calgary’s Game 5 victory over the Tri-City Americans which earned them the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champions. He went feet first into the boards and suffered what he and the team are calling a “lower-body injury.” He says as far as he’s concerned it’s not so much about damage control to the injury as it is his pain tolerance.
“It’s not a matter of what I really can’t do,” said the sixth-round pick of the L.A. Kings. “It’s a matter of pain and what I can deal with, obviously it’s going to be a little painful but I’ll be able to battle through it I think.”
The 20-year-old skated in morning practice on Friday afternoon at Westman Place for 10 minutes before being told to leave the ice by his cautious Calgary coach, Mike Williamson.
“I felt pretty good, I wanted to continue to practice but Mike wanted me to go off and give it another day to rest [the injury] up a little more,” Kozun said.
Kozun, a member of Team Canada’s silver medal world junior squad, is a huge part of Calgary’s offence and the type of highly-skilled player that makes everyone around him look good. He said that he’ll be a game-time decision for Saturday’s game.
The Wildcats are dealing with a big injury problem of their own as leading scorer Nicolas Deschamps is also questionable for the game with a suspected leg injury. Deschamps hasn’t played since the Wildcats semifinal series against Drummondville and missed the entire QMJHL final.
“He’s getting better day by day,” said Moncton head coach Danny Flynn. “Everyone heals at their own rate and he went from crutches to limping to walking to now just doing off-ice workouts.
“He’s champing at the bit to get out there, we just have to get clearance and get him our there. Whether he makes it back or not, we’re not sure.”
Deschamps was tied for the QMJHL regular-season scoring title with 39 goals and 57 assists in 64 games and, like Calgary, most of Moncton’s offence revolves around its star. The game might be won however on the strength of their defence as both teams showcase marquee netminders with Calgary’s Martin Jones and Moncton’s Nicola Riopel. Both teams have already started doing their homework, but as Kozun points out, nothing beats the live game experience.
“There’s only so much you can tell through video, until you actually get to see the team for yourself,” he said.
Sunaya Sapurji is the Jr. Hockey Editor at Yahoo! Sports. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org