Morning skate: Branden Troock back in lineup against Chicago

Branden Troock will return to the lineup tonight when the Texas Stars host the Chicago Wolves.

Troock missed the past two weeks with a lower-body injury and it’s been a frustrating past two months for the 20-year-old rookie.

He scored his first AHL goal on Dec. 12 against the Charlotte Checkers, but then suffered an upper-body injury Dec. 13 that kept him out until Jan. 3.

Troock played well in back-to-back games, but then suffered the lower-body injury when he slammed into the boards feet first against the Oklahoma City Barons on Jan. 6.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Troock said Friday morning. “You’ve got to stay right mentally. I was getting on a little bit of a roll before I got hurt, then you have a setback. Then I came back and had another setback with a different injury … I’ve just got to stay tough mentally and keep going.”

Troock said the most difficult part was watching from the stands and not being able to help his teammates.

“You just miss playing,” Troock said. “Tonight is going to be exciting and I’m just ready to go.”

While Troock will enter the lineup at forward, Jamie Oleksiak and Jyrki Jokipakka will both log heavy minutes after getting re-assigned by Dallas on Wednesday, a move designed to keep both defensemen playing during the NHL All-Star Break.

“It’s a good opportunity for me,” Oleksiak said. “Being a young guy you don’t want to take some time off. You want to make sure you stay on the ice and make sure you’re always ready to go … I’m happy to be down here, I’m looking forward to making the most of it.”

Oleksiak was working with Maxime Fortunus, while Jokipakka was paired with Cameron Gaunce. Julius Honka and Derek Meech are expected to make up the other defensive pairing.

Matt Mangene was practicing as a forward and could play on the third line tonight since Scott Glennie is a game-time decision after missing the morning skate with the flu.

Jussi Rynnas gets the start in net.

Tonight’s projected lineup:

McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Hulak-Dowling-Rallo
Stransky-Smith-Mangene
Root-Faille-Troock

Fortunus-Oleksiak
Gaunce-Jokipakka
Meech-Honka

Rynnas

Scratches: Glennie (flu), Henderson (upper-body), Faksa (shoulder surgery), Wrenn (healthy), Valentine (healthy), Peters (healthy)

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