Top junior draft pick injures wrist in first game

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

The London Knights may have paid a big price in their opening preseason OHL game.

Top draft pick Scott Harrington's debut was cut short after jamming his wrist in the boards on a second-period collision with Sarnia Sting forward Miro Preisinger in London's 5-0 win before 4,700 last night at the John Labatt Centre.

The 16-year-old Kingston native, projected as a top two or three overall pick before falling to the Knights last May, headed straight to the bench after the hit. The rookie defenceman never returned.

"It's his wrist and we're going to find out here it's just a sprain or a crack," Knights GM Mark Hunter.

If it's a crack, Harrington could be in jeopardy of missing the opening of London's 2009-10 regular season on Sept. 18 against the Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires.

Harrington arrived at camp last week after skating in the summer back home with the likes of Windsor star Taylor Hall.

"We had a pretty good group in Kingston this summer," the 16-year-old said, "and you do that and then you come here, you know you're getting ready for another level.

"You don't know quite what level that is yet but you know you're not in midget anymore."

Harrington is living at John Carlson's former billets. He and fellow rookie defenceman Jake Worrad have become friends at the rink.

"I've had him out to my house (in Denfield)," Worrad said. "Hopefully, we'll get to be defence partners."

The temptation, of course, is to hope they'll make a mockery of the learning curve after a month or so, contribute to a contending team and both be polished top-four defencemen the way Ryan Ellis did as an OHL rookie in Windsor a couple of years ago.

That's why London held its breath after the Harrington hit.

The Knights, after all, are dangerously light on the blue-line. Barring a miracle, Carlson is pretty much gone to Washington and there is still an outside chance the New York Rangers will hang onto Michael Del Zotto.

Matt Clarke, Scott Aarssen and Kevin Montgomery have moved on.

Swedish defender Kalle Ekelund is six-foot-three and 202 pounds, but he'll be judged on his ability to handle the physical play. Russian import Anton Klementyev has gone to Islanders camp.

Right now, the Knights have Steve Tarasuk, who scored twice last night, Matt Ashman -- maybe Brandon Greenside -- and a lot of young guys with much to prove.

"They're (Worrad and Harrington) going to get to play," said returning assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu, back handling the defence. "The good thing is they're both confident kids. But we know they're going to make their mistakes. It's hard to get on young guys, especially in these exhibitions, because you don't want them to lose any confidence.

"But there will be a lot of video sessions. You want them to go through the league once, the experience. It's a lot to ask for them to be top guys on a team in their first year."

Worrad has more modest goals. "I want to be in the top six on defence. I know there's a progression and it won't be easy but we're working hard to get there and with a coach like Jacques, we're learning a lot."

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Game glance

Knights 5, Sting 0

London goals: Jason Wilson, Garett Hunter, Colin Martin, Steve Tarasuk (2)

Next: The teams meet again tonight in Sarnia at 7:30 p.m.


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