HANOVER, N.H. — Union’s first period against Dartmouth was bad enough, as they allowed three goals, two of them on the power play.
However, the third period was far worse because of a gruesome injury to Dutchmen freshman forward Luke Cain.
Cain was carried off the ice with 13:33 left in the third after his right ankle was bent in an awkward position after a check during the Dutchmen’s 4-0 loss to the Big Green on Friday at Thompson Arena.
Cain was hit by Dartmouth defenseman Joe Stejskal along the left-wing boards in the Big Green zone. Cain’s skate may have gotten caught in the ice near the boards. As he fell to the ice, Cain’s skate and ankle were turned to the right at a 90-degree angle. He was taken to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center for further examination.
The 21-year-old Cain is tied with senior forward Torren Delforte and sophomore forwards Mario Valery-Trabucco and Jason Walters for the team in lead in goals with two. He is also tied with fellow freshman forward Stephane Boileau for the team’s rookie scoring lead with three points.
Cain is the second Union forward to be injured this season; senior forward Josh Coyle is out with a knee sprain suffered in the season opener against Ferris State last month.
Cain was calm during the five-minute delay while he was attended to before leaving the ice.
“He is, by far, the toughest guy on the ice,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “He wouldn’t go down unless it was something bad. Once everyone saw it, …”
Leaman, who went on the ice to comfort Cain, never finished the thought.
“The ankle was crooked,” Valery-Trabucco said.
Dartmouth goalie Mike Devine saw the entire play.
“I’m just guessing the ankle bent back, and his body was going the other way,” Devine said. “When he came up, it was gross. It’s like Joe Theismann, or any of those [videos] you see on YouTube, where you cringe.”
Dr. Charlie Carr, director of sports medicine for DHMC, popped the ankle back in place before Cain was transported to the hospital.
“We asked him if we could pop it back in, and he said, ‘Go ahead,’” Dr. Carr said. “It’s one of those things where if you get to it in the first five minutes, it’s pretty easy to do. If it gets longer than that, it gets more difficult. We don’t know the extent of the damage, but it looked a lot worse than maybe it was.”
The first period started off badly for the Dutchmen (0-1-2 ECACH, 2-3-2 overall) when Valery-Trabucco took a hooking penalty at 59 seconds. Just under a minute later, Scott Fleming sped by defenseman Brock Matheson down the right wing. He cut to the net and took a shot that was stopped by Justin Mrazek. The rebound popped out into the slot, and Nick Johnson put it past Mrazek.
The Dutchmen were able to kill off a Mike Schreiber hooking penalty at 7:05, but weren’t as fortunate when Michael Beynon was called for a cross-checking minor with 7:14 left.
Chris Potts was in Union’s right circle when he tried to clear the puck down the ice, but he shanked it, and it rolled to Colin Shields in the slot. Shields took a couple of strides before firing a shot off the left post and into the net at 13:54.
“We didn’t execute our game plan at all,” Leaman said. “We talked all week about coming out and playing a smart road game, and we took three penalties in the first period. That allowed them to gain momentum.”
Mrazek’s night ended 1:20 later when he gave up a soft goal to Fleming on a shot from the right circle. The puck snuck in underneath Mrazek’s right pad. Corey Milan replaced Mrazek and made 12 saves, allowing a late third-period goal by Joe Gaudet.
It was the second straight start that Mrazek was pulled.
“The third one, he might like to have back,” Leaman said. “Besides that, I pulled him out of the game to send a message to our team, not because I thought he was playing poorly.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.