Hitmen rookie relieved rehab's over

SCOTT FISHER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

The wait is finally over for Brendan Rowinski.

Fifty-two games into the WHL season, the Calgary Hitmen rookie made his debut in Sunday's 5-1 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets.

Rowinski, the club's top bantam draft pick (13th overall in '05) suited up in just 13 games (four goals, 12 points) for the AAA midget Winnipeg Thrashers during the '05-06 campaign.

He had shoulder surgery Aug. 15 and has been rehabbing ever since.

"It felt pretty good," Rowinski said after playing a handful of shifts in his first game.

"It's a step up from midget, obviously, it was a lot faster, the guys were bigger and a lot stronger.

"But I got the jitters out after the first couple of shifts."

With forwards Riley Merkley and Ryan Letts out with injuries, GM/head coach Kelly Kisio inserted the youngster into the lineup and said he'll play tonight against the Kootenay Ice (7 p.m. 'Dome).

"He was going to play anyways," Kisio said. "But a couple of guys got injured so it made for an easy choice.

"It was the first game for him in the Western Hockey League and his first game in probably a year.

"It's going to be a little quick for him out there so we'll ease him in slowly."

The 17-year-old, who hadn't played a game since last March, said the rehab process was difficult.

"It was very frustrating," he said. "You have to be patient because you can't rush back or you'll get hurt again.

"But I had motivation because I knew I was going to play for the Hitmen. That's quite the opportunity so I kept that in my head and worked hard off the ice."

Forward Ryan White, third in the league in scoring, said Rowinski will be an impact player with the club in the future.

"He works hard and he had no nerves. He handled himself well and he's got a great set of hands," said White.


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