March 11, 2012 3:48 PM
An otherwise encouraging win for the Checkers on Sunday did come with some bad news.
After the game, coach Jeff Daniels revealed that forward Justin Soryal would more than likely miss the remainder of the season due to a knee injury suffered in the second period of the team’s 4-0 win over Chicago. Soryal, who leads the Checkers with 164 penalty minutes in his first season with the team, collided with an opposing player and appeared to be in a significant amount of pain before teammates and trainers helped him to the locker room.
Though best known as the team’s primary enforcer, Daniels said that Soryal would also be missed for his more traditional contributions to the team.
“He did a lot of the dirty work for us, but he’s a guy I had trust in and stuck up for his teammates,” said Daniels. “He’s a leader in that room.”
“That’s tough,” said defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti, whose first season with the team in 2010-11 was curtailed by a significant hip injury. “He’s a good team guy and does a lot for us. He’s my roommate on the road, so I’ll miss him that way too.”
If his season has indeed ended, Soryal, a fourth-year pro who signed as a free agent this offseason, finished with 10 points (4g, 6a) to tie his career high.
Though Nicolas Blanchard is also not afraid to drop the gloves, his value in defensive and penalty-killing roles make him a valuable piece to keep on the ice as much as possible. The Checkers have no obvious candidate to fill Soryal’s shoes exactly, which could be an issue down the road and in the playoffs.
“Guys fear him because he’s so tough,” said Murphy.
At the present moment, the injury leaves Charlotte with just 11 healthy forwards. It is possible they could have the full allotment of 12 by their next game against Norfolk on Friday, with the injured Riley Nash practicing with the team and the duo of Drayson Bowman and Jerome Samson potentially returning from NHL recalls in the near future.
Though the team will miss Soryal’s leadership on the ice, the good news is that they’ll still be able to receive it at other times.
“I’m sure he’ll still be around the room to help lift our spirits,” said Murphy.