RIGA, Latvia -- Ukraine advanced to the second
round of the world ice hockey championship by edging Italy 4-2
in a game that ended in a frightening hit and ugly brawls on
Midway through the final period Ukraine defenseman Denys
Isayenko was taken to hospital after collapsing on to the bench.
He had been slammed into the boards as play was leaving the
Ukraine zone before making his way back to the bench where he
slumped to the floor.
Emergency personnel loaded Isayenko on to a stretcher and
took him to a local hospital.
A spokesman for the Ukrainian team said Isayenko had hurt
his neck and possibly sustained a broken jaw. His injuries were
not life-threatening, the spokesman said.
Kostiantyn Kasianchuk, Roman Salniko, Iurri Gunko and Yuri
Dyachenko each had a goal for Ukraine while Joe Busillo and
Christian Borgatello answered for Italy.
After Ukraine scored into an empty net with just over two
minutes left to play, the contest deteriorated into a series of
skirmishes that spilled over into the hallways under the stands
when the ejected players left the ice.
According to eyewitnesses Italian forward Tony Iob, the
first player sent off the ice, waited in the hallway where he
attacked Ukraine's Vadym Shakhraychuk.
The fight continued for several minutes until off-ice
officials and police were summoned to restore order.
"We watched the video as soon as we got off the ice," said
Italian coach Mickel Goulet, referring to the hits in front of
the Ukraine net that triggered the melee.
"He [Iob] got suckered, he got punched in the head twice, we
watched the video, he was on the receiving end."
Four players, Italy's Iob and Michele Strazzabosco and
Ukraine's Shakhraychuk and Amin Helfer, received misconducts.
"I'm against such moments where emotions are shown out of
the boards," said Ukraine coach Oleksandr Seukand. "The game was
not easy, a lot of emotions but the most important thing was the
result for Ukraine."
While Ukraine moves in to the qualification round, Italy
drops into the relegation battle.
The top three teams in each of four groups move on to the
qualification round while the bottom team slips into the