Three months ago, several questions surrounded Carolina Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell and his NHL future after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
But on Saturday night at Bojangles’ Coliseum, Bickell returned to the ice for the first time since Oct. 30. He saw about 10 minutes of action and recorded an assist for the Charlotte Checkers, the Hurricanes’ American Hockey League affiliate, in a 6-1 victory over the Cleveland Monsters.
Bickell, who won three Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks, was traded to Carolina in June. He received his diagnosis in November and was placed on the injured reserve Nov. 11.
However, Bickell, 30, started practicing with the Hurricanes in January. And after Saturday’s game, he’s one step closer to an NHL return.
Friday: Trailing 4-2 with about eight minutes left in the third period, Levko Koper pulled the Checkers within one. Moments later, Brendan Woods, playing in his first game after a 45-game absence, tied the score at 4. Neither team scored again until Andrew Poturalski’s goal 34 seconds into overtime handed Charlotte a 5-4 win.
Saturday: Behind Jake Chelios and Dennis Robertson, the Checkers jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead. Then, in a span of 57 seconds during the second, Charlotte extended its edge to 5-0 and never looked back in its fourth game with at least five goals since Jan. 10.
What’s next: The Checkers continue their six-game homestand with 7 p.m. contests against the Milwaukee Admirals on Tuesday and Wednesday before facing the Bakersfield Condors at 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.