Portland Pirates forward Travis Turnbull is unable to return to the ice yet, but he’s still trying to remain a part of the team.

“I want to be out there with the guys, and I want to be out there practicing every day,” said Turnbull, who has been out since injuring his right shoulder during a Nov. 26 game against the Springfield Falcons at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

“I love playing hockey. Not playing hockey every day is really tough for me because that’s all I’ve wanted to do with my life.”

When they can’t play, some players have a difficult time being around their teammates, but Turnbull enjoys spending time with them.

“That’s why I like to come down (to the Civic Center) in the morning and work out and ride the bike when the team is practicing,” he said. “I like to be around the guys all the time.”

Since returning from a lengthy stay at home in Missouri, Turnbull, in his second AHL season following his graduation from the University of Michigan in 2009, has really enjoyed watching the Pirates, who have climbed into first place in the American Hockey League’s Atlantic Division in the past month.

“When the team is winning, it’s a lot easier to sit up in the stands,” he said. “You like to see the team do well and you want to see everybody win, and I’m willing to be here and support that.”

Turnbull’s teammates enjoy having him around.

“(Turnbull) is just a ball of energy,” forward Derek Whitmore said. “We miss him when he’s not around. He lightens up the (locker room) a lot.”

The Pirates also appreciate Turnbull’s efforts to help the team while recovering from his injury.

“He’s trying to help out with the video, do what he can off the ice to help the team and be a part of the team,” Whitmore said. “Even though he’s not able to play, we definitely enjoy having him around the rink.”

Turnbull underwent two separate surgical procedures to repair his dislocated shoulder, as well as damage to the acromioclavicular joint (at the top of the shoulder) and rotator cuff.

Until about two weeks ago, he still had his arm in a sling.

“I looked like RoboCop in that thing,” he said. “I had to keep an ice bag on it for three hours at a time.”

Turnbull seems to be making a rapid recovery.

“The doctors are real happy with where we are, and the rehab is going great,” he said. “I have movement back, and I have rehab every day. But I’ve been fully active on the bike and with my legs every day and with my core (muscles).”

But Turnbull is uncertain when he will return to the ice.

“I can’t skate yet because they don’t want me to fall and hurt my shoulder,” he said. “Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I’ll be able to start skating.”

BECAUSE OF injury or NHL recall, Wilkes-Barre’s Brad Thiessen, Providence’s Steven Kampfer, Worcester’s Jonathan Cheechoo, San Antonio’s Garrett Stafford, Toronto’s Joey Crabb, Oklahoma City’s Linus Omark and Grand Rapids’ Brendan Smith will all miss the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic, which will be held Sunday and Monday at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa.

Providence Bruins forward Jamie Arniel, Worcester Sharks defenseman Justin Braun and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins goaltender John Curry have been added to the Eastern Conference All-Star roster, and Toronto Marlies defenseman Keith Aulie, San Antonio Rampage forward Mathieu Beaudoin, Hamilton Bulldogs defenseman Mathieu Carle and Oklahoma City Barons forward Colin McDonald have been added to the Western Conference All-Star squad.

PORTLAND FORWARD Mark Mancari is on a 12-game points streak, one game behind Hamilton’s David Deshamais.

Deshamais opened the season with an AHL-best 13-game points streak.

Binghamton’s Corey Locke and Manitoba’s Sergio Shirokov have also had 12-game points streaks this season.

Mancari also is one of the seven AHL players who has scored goals in five consecutive games this season.

Last month, Hamilton’s Dustin Boyd scored goals in a league-best seven consecutive games.

FOLLOWING THIS weekend’s two-game swing through southern New England to play against the Providence Bruins and the Connecticut Whale, the Pirates will get a four-day break.

After Saturday night’s game at Hartford, the Pirates will be be off until next Thursday.

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

[email protected]