Sunday, November 4, 2012

Willick may be out until after Christmas

Daily News Sports Editor

In the last three-plus seasons, Dylan Willick has missed one game with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers.
And he won’t ever forget the feeling of being scratched from the lineup on game night.
But he will have to get used to it, at least for a few weeks, after suffering a spiral fracture to his right ankle on Friday night. He may not play again until after Christmas,
Willick, who turned 20 on Oct. 19, was playing in his 206th consecutive game on Friday when he was injured during the overtime period of what would be a 2-1 shootout victory over the Prince George Cougars.
“My skate kind of got caught in a weird spot,” Willick, one of his team’s alternate captains, said on Sunday. “I got pushed and my skate stayed where I was . . . my body went the other way.”
Willick said it was a hockey play that occurs dozens of times in scramble situations around goal nets.
“It was one of those deals,” he said, “that if my foot had been in a different spot it probably would have been a normal thing . . . I would have fallen over and life goes on. But the skate was in a weird place and I broke it.”
He said he watched the video twice — that was as much as his stomach could take — and was adamant that it wasn’t a dirty play.
“No,” he stated. “All in all, any other position I could have been in and that was a harmless play.”
He did realize right away that he had suffered a serious injury.
“I felt it snap,” he said. “As soon as I went down, I knew something was wrong.”
Willick is on crutches and is to see a doctor on Wednesday, at which time, assuming the swelling has gone down, he expects to be fitted with a permanent cast.
Were Willick ready to return after six weeks, he would play Dec. 14 against the host Lethbridge Hurricanes. But after playing that game, and another the next night in Medicine Hat against the Tigers, the Blazers will take an 11-day break over Christmas.
“It’ll be tough to push for before (Christmas),” Willick said, “and I might as well take the extra week at Christmas. But it all depends on how it heals. It’ll be a process . . . it’s still early, obviously, so it’s tough to tell how it’s going to go.”
If Willick doesn’t play again until after the Christmas break, he will miss 19 games. Either way, he isn’t likely to play another home game until Dec. 29 when the Vancouver Giants are in town.
Willick’s memory of the last time he was scratched from the lineup is rather clear.
“It was my rookie season, against Chilliwack,” he said. “I sat out one game. I think we lost 3-0.”
It was Nov. 28, 2009, and was head coach Guy Charron’s second game with the Blazers.
“I was in a bit of a slump,” said Willick, who had gone pointless in five games before that night. “He was playing the players who were going and, in all fairness, that’s the way he had to play it.
“That’s the only blemish I had prior to this one.”
He went on to play 71 games in 2009-10 and 72 in each of the next two seasons.
The Blazers next play Tuesday when the Edmonton Oil Kings visit. Kamloops then heads into the U.S. Division for a three-game weekend.
“That’s going to be tough,” Willick said of not going on the road trip. “That’ll be the first road trip I haven’t been a part of.”
This season, Willick has 14 points, including six goals, in 19 games. In 234 career regular-season games, Willick has earned 141 points, 70 of them goals.
JUST NOTES: This isn’t the first time Willick has had a broken ankle. He fractured his left ankle “five or six years ago” while playing for a Prince George midget team in Ladner. . . . “Ladner also is where I got my first WHL stitches,” he said with a laugh. . . . F Mitch Lipon, the younger brother of Blazers RW JC Lipon, had two goals and three assists Sunday as the host Regina Pat Canadians beat the Beardy’s Blackhawks, 8-2, in a Saskatchewan Midget AAA League game. Mitch is on the Blazers’ protected list. Regina is 7-2-2, has allowed only 16 goals and is a point out of first place. Lipon has 12 points, including five goals, in 11 games.

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