SUN Hockey Pool

Flames blueliner returns from injury layoff

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:21 PM ET

CALGARY - Dedicated to prolonging his career, Cory Sarich has gone through months of treatment to help him deal with a case of osteitis pubis — a non-infectious inflammation in the pelvis.

From multiple injections to learning a new way make his body move, the work finally felt like it was worth it when the veteran Calgary Flames defenceman returned to full-contact practice for the first time Wednesday at the Westside Recreation Centre.

After popping pills and taking cortisone shots over the last half of the season, the 33-year-old Sarich got more aggressive with treatment with a specialist in Vancouver.

“It comes down to, first and foremost, kind of retraining your mechanics,” Sarich said. “My hips were out of alignment. I had a lot of things out of whack. The first thing is trying to straighten those out and be in a position where your body’s working in unison and not against each other.

“It’s all these new movements and things that I definitely wasn’t used to. It was kind of like starting from scratch all over again.”

Meanwhile, in order to help get to the root of the problem, Sarich went through as series of prolotherapy injections.

“A sugar-based injection,” he explained. “It’s just a natural irritant to help stimulate growth of connective tissue. It’s one of the most natural approaches.

“As you’re stimulating this new tissue that’s hopefully being formed, you’re trying to train it and get it moving and get it working the way you want it to.”

If Sarich is healthy enough to start the regular season, the effort will definitely have been worth it.

ENFORCER BACK FOR CONTACT

Raitis Ivanans’ debut with the Flames was going well, right up until the final few minutes of the contest.

But the big Latvian scrapper’s first fight in the season opener didn’t end as planned. Looking for some sort of victory during the 4-0 blowout, taking on Edmonton Oilers heavyweight Steve MacIntyre backfired for Ivanans, when he took two consecutive right hands, bloodying his eye and nose and knocking him out.

The concussion kept him out the rest of the season. Nearly a calendar year has passed, and only now has Ivanans been cleared for contact.

The 6-foot-4, 240-pounder is happy to be back — and looking forward.

“It’s been a hard road. But that’s all behind me. I don’t want to even think about it or focus on it. Just go forward. That’s all I’m focusing on,” Ivanans said Wednesday. “I can’t explain it. Being back on the ice, battling, skating with the guys ... for every hockey player, when you miss a certain time and get back out there, that’s the best feeling.”

Essentially, Ivanans is starting over with the franchise and the fans who didn’t get to see much from him after a decent pre-season made a good first impression.

“I’ve been feeling good and practising. I think I can do it again,” he said with a smile. “Same me, just fresh start.”

FORWARDS IN AND OUT

Both Tim Jackman (groin) and Mikael Backlund (undisclosed) were back on the ice Wednesday, but Rene Bourque was still sitting out to rest his minor aches and pains, according to head coach Brent Sutter.

“Right now, there’s no issue at all. It’s just being smart,” Sutter said of sitting Bourque out. “He’s a little sore and it’s nothing that’s major or anything like that. Just like we did with the other guys — you see Jack out there skating now, and Back out there skating again — they didn’t skate for three or four days because I wanted them to be back to 100% before they went back on the ice.

“It’s no different with Bourquie.”

Jackman looked just fine during a physical practice, demolishing rookie Paul Byron during a battle drill.

VETERAN LINEUP THURSDAY

The Flames didn’t disclose their lineup for Thursday’s pre-season finale against the Phoenix Coyotes, but you should see a primarily veteran squad.

Practice lines Wednesday featured Alex Tanguay, Roman Horak and Lee Stempniak in white jerseys; Curtis Glencross, Olli Jokinen and David Moss in red; Niklas Hagman, Mikael Backlund and Lance Bouma in grey; and Tom Kostopoulos, Matt Stajan and Tim Jackman in blue. The extras in green were Guillaume Desbiens, Paul Byron, Raitis Ivanans and the suspended Pierre-Luc Leblond.


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