A 16-year-old Russian ice hockey protégé has died after being hit by a puck travelling at more than 100mph, causing him to suffer a broken neck.
Alexander Orekhov, one of the most promising ice hockey players in Russia of his age, died in a Novosibirsk hospital on Tuesday, three weeks after being hit by the puck during a match.
Orekhov was competing in a match for Metallurg Novokuznetsk’s junior side in the KHL on Thursday, 14 January when the incident happened. The shot hit Orekhov in the neck, and the impact had enough force that it “damaged the carotid artery and broke several bones” in his neck.
The teenager collapsed on the ice and suffered cardiac arrest, before being resuscitated on the ice and taken to a hospital in Novosibirsk. After being placed in a medically induced coma upon arrival, Orekhov failed to recover, and died this week of heart failure.
His club confirmed the sad news, and described his death as “an irreplaceable loss for all of hockey”.
In the United States only two players have been recorded to have died in such circumstances since 1995
"Today we lost Alexander to his injuries,” said Metallurg Novokuznetsk general manager Vladimir Rokkel. We just want to express my deepest condolences to the family. This is an irreplaceable loss for all of hockey.”
A fund had been set-up by Aman Tuleyev, the governor of the Kemerovo Oblast region in south-western Siberia, in a bid to raise money to pay for Orekhov’s treatment, but a police statement confirmed that he had passed away on Tuesday as a result of his injuries.
A spokesman added: “An investigation is ongoing into his death.”
Orekhov had been tipped to enter the NHL draft when he became eligible to enter in 2017, and was regarded as one of the best players in his age group currently playing the region.
Despite ice hockey being regarded as a violent sport, deaths caused by pucks are extremely rare, and in the United States only two players have been recorded to have died in such circumstances since 1995, both of which were hit on the chest as opposed to the neck.