Junior hockey player dies after taking puck to the head in Russia

Timur Faizutdinov, 19, is shown in this handout photo. SKA Ice Hockey Club/Twitter

A 19-year-old Russian hockey player has died from an injury sustained in a recent junior game, when he was struck in the head by a puck.

Timur Faizutdinov suffered the injury while playing defence for Dynamo St. Petersburg’s junior team in a playoff game last Friday, according to the hockey club. His team was playing against Yaroslavl of Russia’s Junior Hockey League (MHL) at the time.

He was struck in the head by a puck shot from roughly 7.6 metres (25 feet) away — the distance between the centre red line and the blue line on most hockey rinks. He was wearing a helmet when he was struck.

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Video published by Russian media shows the moment when Faizutdinov suffered the injury.

In the video, Yaroslavl player Dmitry Tyuvilin attempts to dump the puck into the St. Petersburg zone from centre ice. He raises the puck and tries to get it past the St. Petersburg defence at the blueline, but it hits Faizutdinov in the head instead.

Faizutdinov instantly grabs his head, spins around a few times and then crumples to the ice.

He was treated by team doctors and paramedics, then taken off the ice on a stretcher. Faizutdinov was later taken to a hospital in Yaroslavl where he died on Tuesday.

The MHL says doctors “fought for Timur’s life” but were unsuccessful. As of this writing, it’s unclear what Faizutdinov’s exact injuries were, and the cause of death has not been revealed.

“We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time,” the league said.

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Faisutdinov was in his fourth season with Saint Petersburg. He accumulated 19 assists and 128 penalty minutes over 191 regular season and playoff games with the team.

His team held a moment of silence to honour him before its most recent game.

All games in the MHL and Russia’s top league, the Kontinental Hockey League, will start with a minute of silence to honour Faizutdinov this month.

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Hockey players have died from on-ice injuries to the head in the past, although the injuries have largely been a result of collisions or occasional blows from sticks.

Perhaps the most high-profile puck-related death was that of Brittanie Cecil, a 13-year-old fan who was struck in the head while sitting in the stands at a Columbus Blue Jackets NHL game in 2002. Cecil’s death led to the widespread adoption of protective netting above the glass at both ends of every hockey rink, in order to protect spectators from errant pucks.

With files from The Associated Press


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