BRIDGEPORT -- They were cleared for contact, and Brock Nelson and Travis Hamonic got a bit of it at Wednesday's Bridgeport Sound Tigers practice.

"We had a couple of little battle drills at the end. I felt pretty good," Nelson said. It's not quite the same as playing a game, but Nelson may have a chance at that Friday for the first time in four weeks.

Nelson hasn't played since Dec. 14, when a puck to the face at Norfolk left him with a fractured jaw. He got back on the ice last week, and Wednesday was his first full practice, wearing a full face shield.

"I think I'm ready to go," Nelson said. "I hope I get the opportunity to play."

They can use him. A first-round draft pick in 2010, Nelson had a strong 25 games for Bridgeport before he was injured. He had 11 goals and 11 assists, worked on the power play and the penalty kill.

And for a player who only turned 21 as the season began, Bridgeport coach Scott Pellerin said, he showed a lot of maturity and hockey sense.

"It's amazing. Sometimes when somebody's not in the lineup, you realize how important he is to the team," Pellerin said.

"Brock's the kind of player who brings so much to a team, offensively, defensively, in all types of situations."

The Sound Tigers will need players in all situations soon enough, with the NHL lockout coming to an end once the players ratify the new collective bargaining agreement.

NHL camps are reportedly likely to open Sunday. The New York Islanders haven't said who'll go from the Sound Tigers, but the holes in their lineup suggest they'll need several players.

Even so, Bridgeport hasn't seen its roster change yet, unlike that of some of its rivals.

Bridgeport did sign forwards Jack Combs and Chad Costello to AHL contracts. They had been on pro tryouts since Dec. 18, when they came up from Colorado after leading the ECHL in scoring.

Costello has a goal and three assists in four games for Bridgeport. Combs, who had 30 points in 50 games for Worcester last year, has a goal in three games.;;