OHL: Injury will leave Strome a caged ‘Dog; Dougie Hamilton faces suspension

In a season as injury-riddled as this, having star centre Ryan Strome suffer facial fractures holds no terror for Marty Williamson.

Strome will undergo surgery on Wednesday in St. Catharines to repair what Williamson, in elaborating on an earlier report, called "a couple cracks in his cheekbone" that he sustained Friday when he was punched during a scrum by the Sudbury Wolves' Brody Silk. The New York Islanders first-round will miss at least two weeks. It's just the latest bump in the road for the contending IceDogs, who can count the number of times they have iced a full lineup this season on one hand.

"The main thing is it's not an out-for-the-season type of injury, you know, gone," Williamson said on Tuesday afternoon. "He'll get a couple weeks off and who knows? Ryan's been through an awful lot with the NHL [sticking with the New York Islanders into early October] and the world juniors. Sometimes there is a blessing in disguise with these things. It will allow him to refresh a bit and come back hungry and that's a good thing. We've seen that with [right wing Tom] Kühnhackl, he's obviously very fresh right now after the long layoff.

"We're possibly looking at a suspension to [star defenceman] Dougie Hamilton," Williamson added dryly. "So he'll probably get a rest, too."

Silk's punch, along with the check to the head penalty Hamilton received for a hit later in Friday's game that left Wolves captain Michael MacDonald with concussion-like symptoms, are each being reviewed by the OHL. (No video of either incident appears to have made it to YouTube.)

As Williamson noted, Strome has had a hectic few months between his extended stay in the fall with the Islanders and his focus on the world junior, where he helped Canada win the bronze medal. Despite being a year older and wiser, he's actually scoring at a lower rate than a year ago, with 40 points in 28 games after putting up 106 in 63 a year ago.

"It could be a couple weeks, it could be four weeks, somewhere in that range," Williamson said. "Ryan's having the surgery [Wednesday] and then we'll see where it goes from there. He has a couple cracks in his cheekbone and the nose is bunched up a little bit. It's kind of like, a couple weeks for sure and then we'll see what the pain is like and put a cage on him. He'll have to wear a cage for the rest of the year."

The IceDogs (26-13-0-3), who also have are hardly the only OHL team to be ravaged by injuries. With 12 NHL draft picks on the roster after loading up by adding Kühnhackl and defenceman Jamie Oleksiak, perhaps they're in less of a position to complain. The combination of having stars away at NHL camps and the world junior, along with Kühnhackl's recently completed suspension received for a head hit on Kitchener Rangers defenceman Ryan Murphy on Nov. 4 has meant they have seldom dressed a full lineup. They have won five in a row since the world junior ended, which could be a harbinger of what they might do if they ever get healthy.

"We've been able to hold our head in the standings even though we haven't had a complete team very often," Williamson said. "We've been doing it all year ... Most of the main guys were dressed the past two weekends and we looked pretty good, though.

Strome, 18, often mans a point spot on the IceDogs' league-leading power play. That's where his absence could be felt most, especially if it's doubled by a suspension to Dougie Hamilton, who leads OHL defencemen in scoring and has a cannon shot.

"Strome's a big part of our power play and those are the little things that matter a lot," Williamson said. "When you start losing depth you start worrying about injuries and maxing out other players."

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports . Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photo: OHL Images).

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