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T-Birds notebook: Jarret Tyszka injured while other players return to lineup

Seattle defenseman Jarret Tyszka was injured while playing for the Montreal Canadiens this weekend (Brian Liesse/T-Birds)

With their season opener just under two weeks away, the Seattle Thunderbirds got some bad news on the injury front this weekend.

Defenseman Jarret Tyszka was injured during a rookie game while playing for the Montreal Canadians in Laval, Quebec. On the play, Tyszka was taken into the end boards, head first, by former Spokane Chiefs forward Hudson Elynuik – who was playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs rookie squad.

Tyszka, a 2017 fifth-round draft pick of the Canadiens, was taken off the ice via stretcher and transported to a local hospital for care. The only update offered was from the Montreal twitter account which indicated that the defenseman was conscious and moving his limbs.

The Thunderbirds are obviously monitoring the situation closely.

“We saw the play yesterday and have received the same media reports from Montreal,” Seattle general manager Bil La Forge said Monday. “Montreal has been great in communicating with us.”

Tyszka is entering his fourth full season with Seattle and is coming off his best season statistically when set new personal marks in goals (8), assists (32) and points (40). He was one of two Montreal players taken off the ice by stretcher over the weekend which prompted some discussion about how these rookie games are governed.

Here is the rest of the latest news surrounding the team:

Andrej Kukuca remains on fire

He hasn’t played in front of a home crowd yet but the Slovakian import continues to impress this preseason. Playing in all five Seattle preseason games, the winger has four goals, four assists and has picked up a point in each game.

Over the weekend, in Kennewick, he scored twice to pace the Thunderbirds to a 3-1 win over the Kootenay Ice on Saturday. He also lit the lamp during Friday’s 3-2 victory against Spokane. His start probably should not come as a surprise considering he potted 41 goals in just 42 games last year playing for HC Trencin in Slovakia.

The home fans will get their first, and only, preseason look at Kukuca Tuesday when the Thunderbirds will host the Everett Silvertips at the accesso ShoWare Center.

Players back from injury

When the Thunderbirds played in Everett over Labor Day Weekend they were missing a lot of veterans due to injury. This past weekend saw most of those guys back on the ice.

Over-ager Noah Philp returned to the lineup in Kennewick and contributed right away. He recorded an assist in Friday’s game with Spokane and then found the back of the net the next day against Kootenay.

Defenseman Jake Lee, a key piece to the Thunderbirds blue line, was also back in action and he assisted on a goal in the contest with the Chiefs on Friday. Rookie Payton Mount missed the Everett games due to illness but played in both contests over the weekend in Kennewick.

Forward Dillon Hamaliuk and defenseman Reece Harsch have still yet to play in any of Seattle’s preseason games.

Steve Konowalchuk back in the NHL

It didn’t take too long for former Thunderbirds coach Steve Konowalchuk to land another NHL gig. After being released from the Anaheim Ducks coaching staff in June, Konowalchuk was hired by the New York Rangers as a scout. In a press release, the Rangers announced that he would be focusing on amateur players, primarily in the WHL. That means there is a good chance that he will pay many visits to the ShoWare Center this season.

Konowalchuk was behind the Seattle bench for six seasons and his 219 wins is the second most in the history of the franchise. He also is the only Seattle coach to win the WHL Championship, which he did in 2017.