The Hamilton Bulldogs will need their young players to step up in captain Justin Lemcke's absence.

Bulldogs’ Lemcke to have operation on injured leg

Absence on blue-line gives young guys an opportunity

Hamilton Bulldogs captain Justin Lemcke is set to undergo surgery after fracturing the fibula in his right leg during last night’s 3-2 overtime win over the Soo, the team announced today.

The incident took place just over five minutes into the contest when Greyhounds forward Boris Katchouk hit the 18-year-old defenceman hard into the end boards.

Lemcke was eventually taken off the ice on a stretcher and will leave a considerable hole on the Bulldogs’ blue-line. Hamilton head coach and general manager George Burnett believes Lemcke’s absence will be an opportunity for some of the younger players to rise up.

“In my mind it’s only going to be swim (for these young players) because of the minutes that those young guys are going to get a chance to play,” said Burnett after the game. “We certainly will continue to look and we have been looking for some veteran experience but there’s not a lot of defencemen available out there right now.”

Lemcke’s teammates were concerned for him but know it’s a chance for them to step up.

“It’s tough, any time it’s your captain out there who is just five minutes into his captaincy, you almost think it’s a curse,” Stephen Harper said post-game. “You feel for a guy like that, he puts in the work in the summer and he’s a good leader but we’re going to have to play hard for him.

“There’s opportunity for the young guys and we’ll all be supporting them.”

In four games this season, Lemcke has registered two assists and four minutes in penalties.