The Checkers have released center Jason Bast from his PTO, suggesting that Brendan Woods is close to returning from injury.
In four games with the Checkers, Bast marked one assist while filling in as the team's number two center. During that four-game stretch, the team went 1-3, though Bast played a big role in snapping the Checkers' season-worst four-game losing streak.
Bast will return to Idaho of the ECHL, where he has been enjoying a breakout rookie campaign racking up 44 points (25g, 19a) in 43 games. The 25 year old has twice been named the ECHL's Rookie of the Month this season, becoming just the sixth player to earn the award multiple times since 1997-98.
A Saskatchewan native, Bast played five seasons in the WHL with Moose Jaw, where he totaled 254 points (114g, 140) in 331 games, before going to St. Francis Xavier University and racking up 110 points (37g, 73a) in 111 games over four seasons. He then joined the Steelheads following the conclusion of his college career, netting 16 points (6g, 10a) in 13 games at the end of the 2013-14 season. Bast made his AHL debut earlier this season, appearing in two games for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, before returning to Idaho.
Originally brought on to replace the hole in the lineup left by Brendan Woods, Bast's release could suggest that Woods is close to returning. Woods left the Checkers' Jan. 23 contest against the Barons after taking a hit that earned Travis Ewanyk a suspension from the league. The second-year center has missed six games since, but has begun participating in practice as of late. There has been no definitive word on Woods' availability, but the move could be paving the way for him to rejoin the team for this weeks' heavy slate of games, which kicks off Monday against the Admirals.