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Published: Wednesday, 11/29/2006

Smith is likely out for the season

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Smith Smith
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The Toledo Storm has lost one of its most charismatic leaders and a key offensive contributor to what looks to be a season-ending shoulder injury.

Center Scooter Smith was injured when he was hit in a game against Reading on Nov. 18 and will undergo surgery on Friday. The procedure will keep Smith out of the lineup for at least four months, according to coach Nick Vitucci.

"It's a massive loss," Vitucci said. "He showed a lot strength trying to fight through it. It looks like he'll be gone for the rest of the season and we'll certainly miss him a lot."

Smith, who was the team's third leading scorer (60 points) last season, has three goals this year. The native of Calgary scored 23 goals and dished out 37 assists last season.

Smith, who is in his third season with the Storm, quickly became a fan favorite and vocal leader. The speedy, 5-foot-10 forward collected nine points, including three goals, in Toledo's playoff run to the conference finals last season.

The team also placed center Andrew Martin on the injured reserve list yesterday. Martin, the team's second leading scorer, will be out for at least three games due to a groin injury. Martin has collected 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists) in just 12 games this season.

"[The injury] had gotten pretty bad," Vitucci said. "We'd thought he should rehab it rather than forcing the issue."

The injury bug has hit the team hard in the early going and the Storm has been without the services of a handful of key contributors. Captain Jason Maleyko (hand) and Mike James (concussion) have been scratches.

Maleyko, the team's top-scoring defenseman last season, is expected to miss a month with a broken hand. He had appeared in three games before he was fitted with a cast to heal a broken thumb.

James, who tallied 43 points (14 G, 29 A) last year, has not played this season after being hit and injured in a playoff game late last season.

But center Jeff Attard will play in his first game for the Storm this season after being sidelined with a shoulder injury for the first 14 games. Attard scored 17 goals and had 22 assists for Toledo last season.

"We're excited about that. He's looked great in practice," Vitucci said.

The injuries leave Vitucci with 10 forwards, five defensemen and two goalies for this weekend's three-game road trip. Vitucci said he is looking to add another defenseman.

"We're definitely short staffed," Vitucci said.

"We're missing the better part of our lineup. Injuries are part of the game, but it's been tough on this organization.

"But we want guys to step up and fill the void. We've had some of that, but we want more of them to show better work ethic."

Contact Mark Monroe at:

mmonroe@theblade.com

or 419-724-6110.



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