Alaska Aces head coach Rob Murray says winger Tommy Mele, who is tied for fourth on the club in goals with seven, is out 4-6 weeks after suffering ligament damage to a thumb that has prompted surgery today.
Murray said Mele had been dealing with the injury, which was worsened last Saturday when his thumb was jammed against the boards in a 4-3 OT win at Ontario.
"He had concerns, and he thought of just having it wrapped and playing through it,'' Murray said. "This part of the season, that makes no sense, because it's going to linger and there would probably be times he wouldn't be able to play.''
Murray has activated veteran winger Matt Robinson, who hasn't played for more than a month (last game for him, Oct. 28) and placed veteran center Nate Thompson on the reserve list.
Mele's injury is par for the course for the Aces this season, when they've managed to rack the league's best record (16-5-0) entering tonight's series opener against visiting Utah even as they have been decimated by injuries. With Mele out tonight, he will become the 14th Aces player to miss games this season because of injury. The number of games missed due to injuries has already become so high The Blog needs to go back and do some math later today to calculate the total.
Injured winger Brandon Dubinsky (broken hand) did skate with the team in Tuesday's practice, Murray said. Still, he's probably a ways away from returning -- he suffered the injury blocking a shot on Nov. 10 and has missed the subsequent nine games since.
UPDATE: OK, did the math. Aces players have so far missed 129 games to injury (and that's not counting one game Thompson missed with food poisoning and two Scott Gomez missed with the same ailment. That's a ton of games missed, especially considering the Aces have not yet even hit the one-third pole of the regular season.
In other ECHL news, Stockton's Kristians Pelss has been suspended 21 games for slashing Bakerfield's Olivier Dame-Malka in the face in a game last weekend.