Wharton returns to 67's early

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

Kyle Wharton is returning to the 67's lineup -- just in time for tonight's home opener and rematch against the Sudbury Wolves at the Civic Centre.

It's been a quick recovery for the third-year blueliner who had his left wrist broken by a two-handed slash from Senators enforcer Chris Neil during a conditioning camp in Ottawa on Aug. 24.

"Things happened, and I just have to get on with it," said Wharton, who thought he would miss as many as six weeks following the slash.

The 67's are welcoming the Stittsville native and second-round draft pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets with open arms, because the team needs some help on a depleted blue line.

The club began the season last Friday in Sudbury, and the lack of bodies on defence showed during a loss to the Wolves that only ended in a 3-1 score due to the outstanding efforts of goalie Danny Battochio.

With Wharton back, Ottawa continues to operate without second-year blueliner Elgin Reid and three-year vet Robbie Lawrance.

"We're a young team and everyone knows it's going to take some time for us to get going," said Wharton. "When everyone starts feeling comfortable out there, we'll be all right."

Coach Brian Kilrea wants to see a better effort than during last weekend's northern road swing that included a stop in Sault Ste. Marie and a 7-4 victory, thanks to a three-goal performance from rookie Czech import Lukas Kaspar.

"We need to get the puck out of our end quicker," said Kilrea. "We had chances to get it out, but we didn't.

"Sudbury forechecked hard, and I imagine they'll do the same thing (tonight), so we have to make sure that we help out our defence and get the puck out so we can spend a little more time in their end."

NOTES: Battochio will start tonight ... Kilrea traded C Phil Mangan to Kingston yesterday for a draft pick in 2005.


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