SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Syracuse Crunch defenseman Brendan Mikkelson spent his first professional season as a hockey player with the Portland Pirates.

Now, he’s nursing a lower-body injury, hoping he’ll get a chance to play against them during the Calder Cup playoffs.

“It’s really up to the doctors,” said Mikkelson, following an off-ice workout at the War Memorial Arena on Saturday morning. “They’re the ones who kind of look at the pictures and all that stuff and kind of determine where things need to be. I’m going to do as much as I can that doesn’t inhibit progress and when they say I can do certain things I will do so accordingly.”

Mikkelson has fond memories of the one season he spent with the Pirates during their final year as the AHL affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks.

“It’s been a while now but it was a great experience,” Mikkelson said. “I lived right off Congress Street, right downtown. I remember the Old Port and the cobblestoned streets and how friendly the people were. There’s great good, great seafood. The fans were great and you know, that year we had a pretty good playoff run.”

In 2008, the Pirates lost Games 6 and 7 on the road after taking a 3-2 lead against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the Eastern Conference final.

“We should have gone to the Calder Cup finals that year,” Mikkelson said. “We should have closed them out.”

Since then, Mikkelson has played 131 NHL games for the Ducks, Calgary Flames and Tampa Bay Lightning. He also played in the AHL for the Iowa Chops, Abbotsford Heat and Toronto Marlies.

“It’s been an interesting road,” Mikkelson said. “I haven’t progressed at times like I’ve wanted, and I think I’ve made some big strides at times, too.”

THE NHL PARENT Phoenix Coyotes are expected to assign three more players to the Pirates following Phoenix’s final game of the regular season Saturday night at Anaheim.

Brad Treliving, the Coyotes’ assistant general manager, said centers Alexandre Bolduc and Chris Conner, and defenseman Michael Stone are eligible to return to the Pirates, but he didn’t know when they would be able to rejoin the AHL team.

“We’ve only got one extra man to play a game up there (Saturday night), and I’m sure we’ll see some bodies after that,” he said.

THE LIGHTNING sent right wing Richard Panik and defenseman Radko Gudas to the Crunch following their final regular-season games after both spent the past three weeks in the NHL during their most recent call-up.

In 25 games with Tampa Bay, Panik, who is from Slovakia, scored five goals and had four assists. In 22 games with Tampa Bay, Gudas, who is from the Czech Republic, scored two goals and had three assists.

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

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