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Shinkaruk hopes to return to lineup this weekend

by Mike G. Morreale

Top prospect Hunter Shinkaruk of the Medicine Hat Tigers is hoping to return to the lineup at some point this weekend after missing four games with a lower-body injury.

Shinkaruk, who suffered a skate cut that required 14 stitches in the first period of a loss to the Portland Winterhawks on Nov. 17, finally resumed workouts Monday. The 5-foot-10.25, 181-pound center admitted he felt good and is itching to resume his season.

"The injury is healing up well," Shinkaruk told "I saw the doctors for the second time [Monday] and the healing is right on pace. [Monday] was the first day I could actually do a workout since the injury and kind of get some mobility back.

"My goal is to be ready for Friday [at Red Deer]. If not Friday, then sometime this weekend, but we'll see."

Shinkaruk, who ranks ninth in the Western Hockey League with 35 points in 24 games, is No. 2 behind Portland defenseman Seth Jones on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary rankings for prospects in the Western Hockey League.

"He's a shifty, clever forward," Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald told "He has the ability to switch to another gear when driving to the net and the puck does not slow him down. He's one of the best playmakers in the Dub; very good puck sense and velvet hands. He has a great overall understanding of game."

While it was tough sitting out and watching his team, the Medicine Hat captain said it certainly wasn't the worst thing that could have happened.

"I'm the type of kid who always tries to think of the positive things," he said. "I realize that there are a lot of people in the world who are going through a lot worse than I'm going through right now, so there's no need for me to feel sorry for myself. All I can do is make sure, every day when I get up, do everything that's going to allow me to be back as soon as possible and be back to the form I left off at. I'm just trying to stay positive through this whole thing."

The Tigers have lost four straight with Shinkaruk on the mend. The team is fifth in the Central Division of the Eastern Conference with 24 points in 28 games.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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