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Shinkaruk returns to Medicine Hat lineup

by Mike G. Morreale

Medicine Hat Tigers prospect Hunter Shinkaruk, who will serve as an alternate captain for Team Orr in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in January, had a successful return to the lineup Friday following a four-game absence with a lower-body injury.

Shinkaruk produced three assists in a 6-5 road loss to the Red Deer Rebels. The Tigers are home to the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Saturday and play host to the Brandon Wheat Kings on Sunday.

Shinkaruk, who suffered a skate cut that required 14 stitches in the first period of a loss to the Portland Winterhawks on Nov. 17, resumed workouts Monday.

Shinkaruk, who ranks ninth in the Western Hockey League with 38 points in 25 games, is No. 2 behind Portland defenseman Seth Jones on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary rankings for prospects in the WHL.

"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, 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 to the form I left off at."

The Tigers have lost five straight and are fifth in the Central Division of the Eastern Conference with 24 points in 29 games.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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