Isayenko taken to hospital; fights erupt under stands
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 Wednesday.
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 relegation play.
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