The Tri-City Americans were hit hard by injuries last season, losing forward Phil Tot for the season to a concussion after just 15 games, goalie Eric Comrie to a hip injury in January, myriad injuries limited forward Ryan Chynoweth to just 37 games, and forward Beau McCue suffered an ankle injury Jan. 13 and missed 15 games.
All told, the Americans lost the equivalent of almost 200 games to injuries during the regular season and playoffs. General manager Bob Tory brought in 13 different affiliate players to plug the holes, which will pay dividends in the future.
Rookie Parker Bowles will claim one of the lost games, but the Kelowna, British Columbia, native gutted out the last half of the season and the playoffs with a shoulder injury. He finished with 21 goals and 23 assists in 71 games.
“It just kept popping out and it would go back in by itself,” Bowles said of his left shoulder. “It was too loose and had to be repaired.”
Bowles had surgery May 30 in Vancouver, British Columbia. His surgery was a Bankart repair — an operation for habitual anterior shoulder dislocation.
“It’s feeling pretty good. I can do some things,” Bowles said. “I feel good about the healing process so far. I just try to think positive and keep on that road.”
Bowles will return to Kennewick in late August for training camp, but his time table to return to action is mid-November. He will continue his rehabilitation with the Americans training staff until he is cleared to play.
“I want to get back quicker, but I don’t want to push it,” Bowles said. “I want it to heal right. When it’s ready, I will play. Hopefully I can make it back a month before the due date.”
Starting the season with injuries is not what Tory had planned, but he said there is a silver lining in the situation.
“It’s almost like getting a trade,” he said. “It’s a blow to us early, but in the end he will be better and stronger than he was. He will make us a better team when he comes back. While he’s out, it’s a chance for some of the younger players to get some ice time.”
Chynoweth, who suffered a shoulder injury and a concussion during the season, said he has no lingering effects from the concussion, and his shoulder has healed.
“I’m doing well,” said Chynoweth, who is living with former Tri-City teammate Clint Filbrandt and his family this summer in Calgary. “I hadn’t really had any injuries my whole career until this year. I’m training every day and working. It keeps me busy.”
While Chynoweth is waiting tables, Filbrandt is working at a golf course.“Whenever I get a chance, I go there and work on my swing,” Chynoweth said.
Tory will need as many healthy bodies as he can get. The Americans have to fill the void left by leading scorer Justin Feser (44 goals, 62 assists) and second-leading scorer Malte Strömwall (21 goals, 45 assists), who has opted to stay in his native Sweden after two years in the WHL.
“His father thinks it’s better to keep him there,” Tory said. “The world juniors are (in Sweden) this year and he thinks Malte might have a better chance of making the team if he plays at home. I respect their decision. We have never put one player ahead of the team. Our league is about giving opportunities to players to develop. That opportunity now will go to someone else.”