Goaltender Pat Nagle is working to break in some new equipment at Fort Wayne Komets practice this week, and it feels like he's trying to break in a new ankle at the same time.
The veteran netminder hasn't played since suffering a high ankle sprain on Oct. 28, and it might end up being three full months until he gets into a game again. Komets coach Gary Graham said Tuesday that Nagle and defenseman Cody Sol could return in two or three weeks, but there's no specific target date. Both are working hard to get back onto the ice full-time. Sol has missed the last seven games since suffering a knee strain on Dec. 18.
There's also a chance Gabriel Beaupre could play this weekend. The defenseman hasn't played since Nov. 13 because of a concussion.
Nagle said his ankle is starting to become less painful and recover a little quicker each day from his workouts. He's trying to push it in practice so he can play through some of the uncomfortable aches.
"Now it's just a matter of seeing the puck and conditioning," he said. "If I was a skater I'd have been back a couple of weeks ago, but with the going down, the recoveries and all the on-ice stuff I have to do, that's where it gets pretty tough. It's starting to feel better finally this week where it's not like a knife in my ankle any more, getting up and going down and all that."
His teammates are staying for few minutes after practice to pepper Nagle with shots so he can start to get the feel and vision for the puck back. It's similar to a baseball hitter trying to develop his timing and coordination after sitting out a few months.
"This will be my first full week of practice and we'll see how that goes," he said.
Graham and Komets General Manager David Franke have said they won't let Nagle play until he's ready. Both P.J. Musico and Garrett Bartus are playing well alternating games, and the team has gone 7-2-1 over its last 10 games.
The Komets host Tulsa on Friday in a battle for second place in the ECHL's Central Division, and play at Quad City on Saturday before hosting Indy on Sunday. After hosing Cincinnati on Jan. 20, the Komets will go on a five-game road trip.
For more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at @blakesebring, at his blog tailingthekomets.com and on Facebook at Blake Sebring.