Portland Pirates center Ryan Duncan is on the mend and could be back in the lineup by Friday night.

Duncan returned to practice Wednesday morning after he was cut in the face by the skate of the Connecticut Whale’s Casey Wellman Sunday afternoon.

“I jumped on the bike for the first time today and lifted a little weights, and that felt fine,” he said. “It’s good I didn’t have any (other) symptoms, like a concussion. It’s just basically the cut, and I just have to wait and see how the swelling goes.”

Duncan has a 4-inch, crescent-shaped scar starting just to the right of his nose and running above his lip to his left cheek. He needed 45 stitches.

Duncan hopes to be on the ice today before the Pirates leave this afternoon for a three-game trip.

“If the swelling goes down, I’ll toss on the cage and hopefully get back on the ice,” he said.

When he does return, Duncan will wear a metal cage or a full shield to protect his face.

“I’ll probably use a full shield,” he said. “That’s what I wore in college.”

Since 2006, AHL players have been required to wear a visor to protect their eyes.

At first, Duncan didn’t realize the severity of his injury when it occurred about a minute into overtime of a 5-4 loss to the Whale.

“I knew I was hit by a skate, but I thought it was just the boot of the skate,” he said. “I didn’t think it was the blade. It felt like I just got kicked in the face, like I got punched. I started bleeding, but I thought it must be just a pressure wound. When I skated to the bench I could see the reaction of my teammates. I guess it (looked) pretty bad, so I figured I got caught by the blade.”

In 2007, Duncan won the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s top player after leading the University of North Dakota to the national championship. Following his graduation in 2009, he spent his first two professional seasons with Salzburg EC in Austria’s elite league.

Duncan, fourth on the Pirates in scoring with 14 goals and 18 assists in 55 games, is in his first AHL season.

NOTES: After missing Sunday’s game because of an upper-body injury, Brett MacLean, third on the team in points with 18 goals and 17 assists, skated for the first time in practice Wednesday. But he wore a yellow jersey, a sign the medical staff hasn’t cleared him for contact. Pirates Coach Ray Edwards said he was unsure if MacLean would play Friday night against the Whale. … The Pirates signed 19-year-old defenseman Harrison Ruopp and 20-year-old center Justin Maylan, both of the Prince Albert Raiders in the junior Western Hockey League, to amateur tryout contracts. “I don’t know how much they will play, or if they will play,” Edwards said, “but they will come in to see what it is all about.” … On-line balloting has begun at www.portlandpirates.com for fans to choose the Pirates’ most valuable player, unsung hero and most popular player. The awards will be presented April 13 at the Cumberland County Civic Center following the final home game against Hershey.

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

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