'Choo healing after his rehab.


Byline: Bill Ballou

COLUMN: Sharks Notes

WORCESTER - This time of the year, a team can use all the offense it can get, so the Sharks are glad to see Jonathan Cheechoo back in town.

Cheechoo, still Worcester's leading scorer even though he hasn't seen game action since Feb. 27, did not play last night, but practiced with the Sharks in the morning.

He is back from his home in California, where he took a couple weeks off to rest and get some physical therapy.

"It's not bad," he said of his sore back. "I hope I can play. That's what I want to do. It's definitely much, much better than it was before I took the time off."

For the Sharks, the whole thing is a bit of a conundrum. When Cheechoo was originally hurt at the end of December, he was flying, scoring a point a game. If he had not been injured and kept up that pace, chances are that he would have made it back to the NHL by now.

So, while he missed all of March, Cheechoo could be back for the final five games and into the playoffs, if Worcester makes it.

Acolatse gets tryout

Sena Acolatse, one of the most interesting defensemen in Canadian junior hockey this season, is expected to be here this weekend and could make his professional debut. Acolatse, a solid 5-foot-11 and 200-plus pounds, just finished his season with Prince George of the Western Hockey League and has signed an amateur tryout.

In 66 WHL games, Acolatse was 15-48-63 with 128 PIM. He is projected to be a defenseman who can both fight and score.

Awards time

Former IceCats captain Bryan Helmer is the winner of the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award for sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey. Helmer is skating for Oklahoma City this season. He played 70 games for Worcester in 1998-99 and 1999-00.

Providence center Trent Whitfield is Player of the Month for March. He was 12-10-22 in 13 games...

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