Fife Flyers are hopeful that Shayne Stockton’s injury will not be as bad as initally feared.
Stockton exited Sunday’s exhibition game against German side EC Kassel Huskies clutching his shoulder following a heavy collision with an opposition player.
Doctors are waiting for swelling to subside before diagnoising the injury, but head coach Todd Dutiaume is hopeful of avoiding another long-term asbence for a player who missed almost the whole of last season with a knee injury.
“I’m hopeful that it’s not as bad as we initially thought, but he’ll need to see a specialist in the next day or so and hopefully rule out anything long term,” Dutiaume said.
“He’s certainly sore, but the plus side of having a longer pre-season is we effectively have three weeks of training until the home opener, so that gives him an opportunity to heal up.
“It appears to be more muscular, or tendon-related, but we don’t know for sure.
“I feel terrible for him because I’m a huge fan of Shayne and it’s apparent what he brings to our club.
“I know what he’s capable of so once I knew he was better it was an easy decision to bring him back.
“He was clearly upset but he’s been hanging aorund the team that last couple of days and his spirits are up.
It’s up to us to keep that up and support him through his injury again.
“He was coming in this year to prove a point, and I think you saw at the weekend, after being out for close to 10 months, he got himself in shape and was ready for it.”
Dutiaume admitted that Sunday’s match became more physical than he anticipated for what was effectively a pre-season friendly.
“The game got a bit niggly towards the end on Sunday which shows both teams were up for it,” he said.
“In a friendly you don’t expect it to be physical, and for the most part it was a skating game, but both teams wanted the win on Sunday and unfortunately we got a few bumps but nothing other than Stockton to complain about.”
After the weekend games, which both went to overtime, Dutiaume was left with a positive first impressions of his side, which features eight new imports as well as a number of new Brits.
“Off the ice we’ve got good individuals, enthusiastic, and likeable characters,” he said. “On the ice, it’s much the same, and hard-working. That’s one thing we discussed at the end of last season about the type of team we wanted to build.
“Once we get up to our full line-up we’re going to have a team capable of competing and putting up results.
But we need to get Shayne back and we need to sign another D-man.”
On the ongoing search for a 14th and final import, Dutiaume added: “It takes time.
“Names come up but I wouldn’t say anything has really jumped off the page yet.
“But that’s just a process. It’s that time of year. A lot of guys are settled for camps, and others have maybe been waiting right up until this point, and now it’s crunch time.
“Things can change from day to day and we’re optimistic we’ll find someone, but I don’t want to go on too much longer without it.”
Flyers welcomed the returning Carlo Finucci back into the fold this week after last season’s 18-goal forward missed out on the opening exhibitions.
He will go straight into the line-up for this weekend’s pre-season encounters against Danish side Herlev Eagles, against whom Dutiaume is expecting a tough challenge.
“It will probably be similar-ish to what people saw from Aalborg a couple of years ago,” he said.
“They are going to be able to skate quite well, and be pretty creative offensively.
“But it’s going to be another good test for us and we’ll need to be ready.
“We have another week of prep, and Carlo came in this week, so we’re one player out, and one player in.
“It would’ve been nice to add another player to our forward line, but that injury bug continues to plague us. I’ll be happy to see the backside of that.”