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On the injury front

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers
Travis Ewanyk wins a draw vs. the Prince Albert Raiders (Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club).

Sunday night could be a sleepless one for Oilers prospect Travis Ewanyk.

He's hoping good news will come Monday morning when Team Canada announces its invite list to the 2013 National Junior Team Selection Camp.

I caught up with Ewanyk during Sunday's game between the WHL's Oil Kings and Lethbridge Hurricanes. The 19-year-old has been on the shelf since Nov. 15 when he injured himself in the second period of Team WHL's crack at Team Russia in the Subway Super Series.

"It was a weird play," Ewanyk said of Mikhail Naumenkov's well-timed hit. "I was going wide on him and he hit me pretty low. Right after he hit me I got up and kept going a little bit, but it was pretty sore, so I went to the bench to get it checked out. It didn't seem to be too serious at the time, since the doctors let me go back out and give it a shot. But it didn't feel right, it was weak and I couldn't skate on it.

"It's more of a sprain. I'm skating in a brace for precautionary reasons to give it some support -- it's more mental than anything, actually. I'm trying to get used to it."

In a game that was widely considered as an audition in which the 24 hopefuls were all vying for a callback, Ewanyk showed all he could in the period-and-a-bit he managed to squeeze in before having to call it quits. He was a wrecking ball, hitting everything in sight and serving as a reminder to the Canadian brass of what Devante Smith-Pelly and Ryan O'Marra -- notable Coke machines of World Juniors' past -- had accomplished in similar roles.

As a result, Ewanyk says it's quite likely he'll be scanning Twitter all morning while (im)patiently waiting for a phone call with good news.

"I sure hope so," he laughed. "I don't know anything yet, but I'm trying to get healthy for it. It's out of my hands if I get selected or not, but if I do, I'm going to be 100 percent ready to go for it.

"It's day-to-day right now. I might be able to get back in the lineup later this week or next, I'm not sure, but when it feels good I'll be back in right away. Right now it's coming along pretty well and I've already started skating again. Today (Sunday) was my third day on the ice and it's feeling great."

The National Junior Team Selection Camp runs Dec. 11-15 at the WinSport Arena in Calgary.


Fellow Oil King and Oilers prospect Martin Gernat is back in Edmonton. Most importantly, he's back on the ice.

Gernat, 19, played a vital role in the Edmonton Oil Kings' championship season last year. Little did anyone know he did so in pain, suffering for most of the season from a shoulder injury he sustained during the World Junior Championship in Calgary. While everyone hoped time and a restful off-season would help heal it, that wasn't the case; the pain persisted.

"I met with doctors in August and they suggested I have surgery," said Gernat. "It was my choice of whether or not I wanted to get it done here or if I wanted to go home and have it done in Slovakia. I decided to go home because I'd never had surgery before -- it helped to be at home, to be with my family. That was really important."

Surgery was the last option to help repair to the damage to his acromioclavicular (AC) joint with the use of tissue in his bicep; Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was forced to miss time with a similar injury last season, albeit to a lesser degree.

The product of Kosice, Slovakia took a big step this past week, returning to practice with his teammates.

"I'm not sure when I'll be back in the lineup," said Gernat. "Right now I'm taking it one day at a time, but I do feel really good on the ice. My arms obviously need to get stronger, so the next step is to put on full gear and start taking contact."

After going all the way last year and witnessing another encouraging start to 2012-13, Gernat misses the game greatly. But with each passing day, he's getting closer to game action. That's helped serve as motivation in an otherwise frustrating season so far.

"When I was back home, I was busy the whole time -- but now that I'm back here, I'm spending most of my time watching practice and watching games, so it's tough. I really want to be out there. But I know I will be soon, so that's good. I can't wait."

-- Ryan Dittrick, | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick

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