Khokhlachev after being released from hospital (Russian Hockey Federation photo)The good news for Alexander Khokhlachev is that he is apparently doing fine after a scary moment in Thursday's Subway Super Series game.
With Team Russia clinging to a 2-1 lead in the final two minutes, Team OHL got the puck back to Ottawa Senators first-rounder Cody Ceci, who has a very hard shot. Ceci walked the line, moving toward the centre of the ice to take a slapshot and create either a rebound or tip-in opportunity. Khokhlachev, the Boston Bruins draft choice who plays for Moscow Spartak of the KHL, dove full length to block it.
Ideally, that self-sacrifice means taking the puck in a more protected area — not that it still won't hurt. But Ceci paused in his backswing, which is actually a smart play to keep from telegraphing his intention. Instead instead of the puck striking Khokhlachev in the thigh or the ribs as he slid through Ceci's shooting lane, it got him in the face. Fortunately for Khokhlachev, he only sustained a bruise and the Russian Hockey Federation posted the above photo of him looking none the worse for wear.
Here's the video, in Russian:
Use all the warrior clichés you wish, it's allowable. Khokhlachev went to the hospital and honestly, there would be some reservation about blogging this if not for the initial report from Hockey Night In Canada's Elliotte Friedman that the 19-year-old centre was not seriously injured.
It just goes to show that hockey is a dangerous game and players will go to great lengths for their teammates. One can also wonder if this reflects Russia's newfound seriousness toward the Subway Super Series, the annual six-game event with the Canadian Hockey League. Canada's long-time rival used to treat it as a larf, sending over a B team. That has not been the case since 2010, when it won the event for the first time. Now it has Khokhlachev putting his face in the way of a puck, although that was not in any textbook on defensive hockey.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.