There’s an adage about bad luck coming in threes and you can appreciate if Samuel Honzek hopes this stint playing games with a full face mask marks the trifecta of his unfortunate circumstances.
The Vancouver Giants’ star forward and team captain is wearing the protective headgear after suffering what the 19-year-old Slovak called a “fractured sinus cavity,” in Prince Albert in the opener of Vancouver’s recently competed Eastern Conference road trip.
Honzek, who was a first-round pick, No. 16 overall by the Calgary Flames in last summer’s NHL Draft, says it was a result of taking either an elbow or a stick to the face.
That follows Honzek missing the first 25 games of Vancouver’s season with an abdominal injury suffered while playing a pre-season contest with the Flames on Oct. 4. And it follows Honzek missing 20 games midway through last season after the back of his leg was skated over by an opponent while he was playing for the Slovaks at the world juniors.
The Prince Albert game was Honzek’s first back with Vancouver from suiting up with the Slovaks at this year’s world juniors in Sweden. He was initially slated to join Vancouver midway through the trip, but moved up his flight a couple of days to get into extra games with the Giants.
Did we mention bad luck?
“Hopefully those injuries are out of my way,” Honzek said. “Hopefully next year — and years — after are going to be without injury.
“It sucks that I’m playing with a bubble. I don’t like it honestly, but it’s part of hockey.”
The line of Honzek, trade deadline pickup Connor Levis and rookie Cameron Schmidt controlled play during Vancouver’s 4-2 win over the Kelowna Rockets Sunday afternoon at the Langley Events Centre. Schmidt had two goals. Honzek recorded an assist, which pushes him to 13 points, including five goals, in 11 games this season with Vancouver.
He had 23 goals and 56 points in 43 regular season games last season with Vancouver, and then put up one goal and four points in the first-round playoff loss to the Kamloops Blazers.
GRONICK SET TO RESUME PRACTISING WITH GIANTS
Vancouver general manager Barclay Parneta said Wednesday that centre Kyren Gronick (lower body, month to month), who hasn’t played a game since November, has resumed skating and could be back practising with the team this week.
Gronick, 19, was one of Vancouver’s best players in the first quarter of the season and his return to action would be solid addition for a run at the playoffs.
Gronick had five goals and 14 points through 21 games.
Defenceman Damian Palmieri (lower body, month to month) hasn’t started skating yet but Parneta remains hopeful that he’ll get back to game action before the season is over. He hasn’t played since early October.
NORTH VAN’S WESTCH IMPRESSES AT PROSPECT TESTING
The CHL Top Prospects Game, which is a showcase for the top NHL Draft eligible players, was slated to go Wednesday night in Moncton. The players completed on-ice testing there Tuesday and North Vancouver native Carson Wetsch, who’s a forward with the Calgary Hitmen, was among the notables, finishing third overall and tops among WHL players when the 10 categories were combined.
Wetsch placed first in the weave agility drill (which sees players slalom twice between four obstacles spread out in a line in an offensive zone), with his 10.487 seconds leaving him just ahead of the 10.498 put forth by runner-up Beckett Sennecke, who’s a winger with the Oshawa Generals.
Wetsch was also fourth overall in the reaction with puck drill (which sees players make the way up the ice stick handling while angling right or left when prompted by a beacon on a pole). He clocked a 10.012 seconds. Winger Jett Luchanko of the Guelph Storm won with a 9.959 seconds.
Wetsch, who played Under-18 with Burnaby Winter Club, has 14 goals and 32 points through 41 games with the Hitmen. TSN’s Bob McKenzie had him at No. 75 in his most recent draft rankings, while TSN’s Craig Button slotted him at No 53.
Prince George Cougars winger Terik Parascak won the reaction drill without puck drill. He clocked 9.165 seconds.
Brandon Wheat Kings defenceman Charlie Elick was second in the combined rankings among WHL players and Giants defenceman Colton Roberts was third.
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