Riding a five-game winning streak that has lifted them in the Eastern Conference standings, the got an added boost Wednesday.
Winger (upper body) and defenseman (knee) have been cleared to return to the lineup. Both fully participated in practice at Giant Center.
I feel like it's been a long time, so I'm really excited to get back on the ice with my teammates and help us get into the playoffs and go from there, Schmidt said. It's been a long month, that's for sure.
There were initial concerns that Schmidt, sidelined the past 11 games, had suffered an ACL tear on a collision with Norfolk's Garnet Exelby on March 8. It turned out to be an MCL sprain and surgery wasn't required.
When I first got out there and got hurt and got off the ice, I was a little nervous that it was more than it was, just the MCL, Schmidt said. It was great that it was just that. When I first got the MRI results back, it kind of gives you a little hope that you're really working towards something. You want to get back as soon as possible.
Schmidt's return bolsters a defense corps that has lost Tyson Strachan, Julien Brouillette and Patrick Wey on recall to the Washington Capitals.
He can take some minutes, Bears head coach Mike Haviland said. We've also got to watch. He's been out for a little bit, so we've also got to watch how many minutes we do play him.
He feels great. He's ready to go. It will be good to have him back. He was playing pretty well for us when he got the injury.
Segal has missed the past four games since getting injured during a two-goal game in a win over Albany on March 28.
It wasn't that bad, Segal said. Just for precautions, we just kept me out for the week. I feel great right now and ready to go.
The Bears went 4-0-0-0 with Segal, who was leading the team in scoring at the time of his injury, out of the lineup.
We have the guys in there that are going to get it done, Segal said. It doesn't matter who's out. I think everyone's willing to step up their game and make sure we get in the playoffs here.
Said Schmidt: Just moving forward, I feel like we're starting to mesh and jell together. We've got some new guys that are starting to fit in nicely with what we're trying to do and I just hope that I can add to that.
The Bears, coming off a five-night road trip last week and facing a heavy travel three-in-three this week, had an optional practice. Cameron Schilling, Patrick Wellar, Dane Byers, Nicolas Deschamps, Michael Latta, Ryan Stoa, Jeff Taffe, Matt Watkins, Ryan Potulny and Kris Newbury didn't skate. It was a long week last week and had a good practice yesterday, Haviland said. Just kind of gave them the option. If you needed to go out, go out; if not, get a little bike in and we'll go back at it tomorrow.
If Schmidt hadn't been injured, he likely would have been recalled to the Caps. He has played 29 games for Washington this season. Things happen for a reason, Schmidt said. There's always a plan for everybody.
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