The all-star break for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins goaltender Brad Thiessen was less than glamorous.
Originally named as the starting goaltender for the Eastern Conference, Thiessen’s all-star dreams vanished when he injured his leg during the first period of a Jan. 22 contest against Albany.
Instead of spending last weekend in Hershey competing against the top AHL players, Thiessen cut his break short and returned to Wilkes-Barre to rehab his injured leg.
“It sucks I wasn’t able to play in it (all-star game), but the break kind of came at a good time,” Thiessen said after Thursday’s practice. “I was back working on the leg and skating a little bit.”
The extra time off helped Thiessen recover to the point where head coach John Hynes said he should return to action over the weekend or early next week. Thursday was Thiessen’s first full practice, and he said everything felt fine.
“It’s feeling better. A few more practices to get back into it and see what happens,” he said, adding that the injury impacted him more because of the position he plays.
“If I played a position other than goalie, I’d still be playing,” Thiessen said. “Because of the nature of the position and the movement required, (the injury) kind of affects it.”
When Thiessen does return, it will allow Hynes to resume the goaltender rotation with Curry where each netminder alternates starts.
So far the formula has worked pretty well, as Curry and Thiessen each have 18 wins – second most in the AHL.
“We’re definitely looking forward to getting Brad back into that rotation,” Hynes said. “Competition drives everything and we want to get back into the situation where John and Brad are pushing each other to be the main guy at the end of the year.”
For Thiessen, getting back to simply being able to play again can’t come soon enough. He said missing the last two weeks was the first time he ever missed games due to an injury.
And not only did it cost Thiessen some playing time, it also forced him to miss a chance to be a starting goaltender in an all-star game.
Still, Thiessen said he was able to watch Curry experience his first all-star game and was impressed with how he did.
“I watched the skills competition and that didn’t look like too much fun for a goalie. But he did well. I heard he played really well in the game, so I’m happy for him and that he got a chance to do that,” Thiessen said.
Although the Penguins get right back into the swing of things with four games in the next five days, Hynes said the team is only focused on tonight’s matchup against the Manitoba Moose of the Western Conference. “Manitoba is a really good team and they will be a good measuring stick for us,” Hynes said.
The Penguins still have the most points in the AHL with 72, but the Hershey Bears are closing the gap. Heading into tonight, the Bears are in second place, 11 points behind the Penguins. Hynes said he isn’t watching the Bears nor the standings for that matter. “I won’t even address the standings with the team,” he said. “Whoever is on the schedule next is the team we’re going to focus on.”
Manitoba Moose (26-14-1-5) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (36-12-0-0)
Tonight at 7:05 p.m. at the Mohegan Sun Arena