Given the Alaska Aces' brutal litany of injuries, the hockey club's latest medical news seems golden: Garry Nunn did not suffer a broken left foot Wednesday night when he was struck by a teammate's slap shot.
Nunn, the second-leading scorer for the ECHL leaders, said team doctors who reviewed an X-ray taken Wednesday night and a CT scan taken Thursday morning told him those did not reveal a fracture.
Even so, the winger said he is likely out two to four weeks with a badly bruised and swollen foot he is unable to put weight on.
Nunn said doctors told him he was fortunate Sean Curry's booming slapper hit him on the inside of his foot, nearer the heel, than on the outside of the foot, where such a shot easily could have been damaging enough to necessitate surgery and a long recovery.
"It's great news,'' Nunn said late Thursday afternoon by phone. "I can't believe it because of how it feels and how swollen it is. I'm excited it's not fractured.''
Nunn's foot has been placed in a walking boot and he is using a crutch to get around.
The third-year pro was struck late in the second period of a 4-3 shootout win over the Ontario Reign at Sullivan Arena. Unfortunately for Nunn, Curry owns the hardest shot on the team.
"I definitely thought it was broken, 100 percent,'' Nunn said.
His injury was eerily reminiscent of the broken right leg captain Steve Ward suffered earlier this season. Both injuries occurred at nearly the same place on the Sullivan ice. Ward, whose injury required surgery, returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing 33 games.
After getting the CT scan Thursday morning, Nunn stopped by the team's optional practice at Sullivan and iced his foot while elevating it in the training room.
"I feel like I got about five minutes of sleep last night, just aching non-stop,'' he said.
Nunn, the Aces' fastest player, has been a constant on center Nick Mazzolini's right wing and has delivered 12-21--33 totals in 38 games.
"If (Nunn) is down for a little bit,'' Mazzolini said after Wednesday's win, "we'll wish him a speedy recovery and have someone fill that spot. That's what it is at this level - plugging holes.''
The Aces are thin at forward after the recent departure of four NHLers back to the world's best league, the departure of veteran winger Matt Robinson to the Central Hockey League and various injuries. Wednesday, they were only able to dress nine true forwards, one less than the optimum number, because they used Anchorage's Merit Waldrop as a fill-in.
But just as Nunn exits the lineup for an indefinite period, winger Jordan Kremyr is set to return Friday night against visiting Ontario. He has missed 24 games with an upper-body injury.
Winger Tommy Mele, who has missed 17 games since having thumb surgery, is back practicing but is doubtful for games Friday and Saturday against Ontario.
In all, Nunn's absence Friday will make him, unofficially, the 18th Aces player this season to miss a game because of injury.
Through 38 games this season, injured Aces have already missed a combined 262 games to injury. That's already 22 games more than any of the previous five seasons and well above the team's average in the last five seasons of 217 games missed to injury.
Mazzolini, the team's leading scorer, and rookie defenseman William Wrenn are the only Aces skaters who have played in all 38 games this season.
Ward was understandably rusty in his return, making uncharacteristic turnovers. He said at times he felt he skated decently, but was uncomfortable with the puck. Other times, Ward said, he felt fine with the puck but didn't use his legs well.
"Everything was working, just not together,'' Ward said. "You always hope you can step in and not miss a beat, but I did miss 33 games.''
Ward says he knows he needs more games to get himself up to game speed.
"I have to be patient with it,'' he said. "I'll be better when I'm more confident with the puck. I was chopping it apart (Wednesday).''
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
Woody on Hockey
By DOYLE WOODY