Heshka still hurting, but hopeful

  • By Nick Patterson / Herald Writer
  • Saturday, April 8, 2006 9:00pm
  • Sports

KELOWNA, B.C. – Shaun Heshka might not have been a participant in any of the fun and games during practice Saturday afternoon. But the Everett Silvertips defenseman was walking around unencumbered and appeared in good spirits.

It looks like the Tips dodged a major bullet.

Despite sitting out practice with a knee injury, Heshka declared himself ready to go for today’s Game 2.

“I feel a little bit better today,” Heshka said. “It’s still a little sore, but there’s nothing you can really do about it except ice it as much as possible.”

The Silvertip nation’s collective heart skipped a beat when, late in the first period of Friday’s 5-3 victory in Game 1, Heshka went down with what looked like a serious knee injury following a collision with Kelowna’s Troy Bodie.

“I went back to get the puck and got hit,” Heshka explained. “He hit my knee instead of my shoulders, I was expecting just a hit. It was a clean hit and my knee hit the boards.”

Heshka had to be helped off the ice and the Tips appeared in danger of losing perhaps their most irreplacable skater. But fortunately for both Heshka and the Tips, the injury involved more pain than structural damage.

“It really hurt and I though the worst,” Heshka said. “At the time I thought I was out for sure. But I was lucky enough that it didn’t hit in the right spot, it didn’t hit my kneecap. It was more or less a bone bruise.”

That was good news for Everett. When Heshka reappeared on the Everett bench midway through the second period, the Tips breathed a sigh of relief, and it was Heshka who eventually scored Everett’s first goal.

Heshka’ availability is crucial to Everett’s hopes of knocking off Kelowna. He’s easily Everett’s most-experienced defenseman, and his work at the point is a key reason why Everett has one of the most lethal power plays in the league.

Sweet homecoming: Brady Calla couldn’t have scripted it any better.

Calla, a Kelowna native, scored the go-ahead goal in the third period of Friday’s victory, putting an exclamation mark on his first ever playoff game in his hometown.

“It’s pretty cool,” Calla said. “I was pretty excited. It was nice because I had my family and friends and girlfriend up in the stands. It was a real good time in the game to do it.”

With the score tied 2-2, Zach Hamill and John Lammers worked along the boards to create a turnover. Lammers skated the puck in deep, then threw it out front to Calla, who one-timed a shot past Kelowna goaltender Derek Yeomans. Everett led the rest of the way.

“I didn’t really think about the possibility,” Calla said of scoring a crucial goal in his hometown. “I just think about going out every night and working hard and playing my game. When stuff like that happens it’s just a bonus.”

No panic: Kelowna might have lost Game 1 and surrendered home-ice advantage, but the Rockets are far from concerned. Kelowna lost Game 1 in its first-round series against Kooteny, then proceeded to win four of the next five to win the series in six games.

“We went through this last series with Kootenay,” Kelowna coach Jeff truitt said. “We would have liked a better fate this time, but now we’ve just got to win our home games, then go into Everett some time and earn our home ice back.”

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