BRANDON — Brandon Kozun is closing in on full health and looking to be an X-factor for the Calgary Hitmen as the Memorial Cup continues.
Kozun, who led the CHL in scoring with 107 points this season, was back on the ice for the first time since playing only six or seven shifts Saturday against the Moncton Wildcats. He looked like he hadn’t missed a beat.
“There’s not much I can’t do right now, I felt really comfortable out there,” said Kozun. “If you watched the practice, you can tell how excited I am. I’ve got a lot of built-up emotion in me from watching and I think that’s only going to work to my advantage in the game.
“It’s the best I felt since before the injury.”
The original ankle injury was sustained in the fifth game of the WHL championship series with the Tri-City Americans.
Kozun isn’t worried about the Wheat Kings targeting the injury.
“I’m used to being a target, I’ve been targeted all playoffs and for most of the regular season,” said Kozun, who chuckled when asked if he’d been sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber to speed up the healing process. “We’ve been doing some treatment and just resting and getting the recycling bin out of the hotel and dipping the foot in (ice). It seems to have been working.”
Hitmen head coach Mike Williamson proclaimed Kozun healthy and confirmed he’d be in the lineup Friday.
“He’s a game-breaker type of player,” said Williamson. “We’re glad to have him back.”
If winning five consecutive playoff games didn’t give the Hitmen enough confidence, the sight of their leader being ready to play should give them another shot in the arm.
“Kozie has been our best player all year, so to have him back would be a big boost for us, for sure,” said Hitmen goalie Martin Jones.
“He’s a key element to our team and he adds that next dimension of scoring,” added Hitmen co-captain Ian Schultz. “We have another weapon we can use and utilize.”
Although Schultz was hit by a Travis Hamonic shot on the right hand late in the third period Wednesday during a 5-on-3, the Hitmen co-captain met with the media and plans to be in uniform Friday.
Cody Sylvester, who missed Wednesday’s game with the flu, was on the ice with his teammates and also will return to the lineup.