Former New Hampshire defenseman Garrett Stafford was seriously injured Friday night in the latest incident of severe on-ice hockey violence.
Stafford, now playing for the Cleveland Barons of the AHL, the top minor-league affiliate of the San Jose Sharks, was hit across the face with a two-hander from Hamilton’s Alexander Perezhogin. Stafford was kneeling in front of his net at the time, and the force of Perezhogin’s stick opened a large gash on Stafford’s face.
According to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Stafford went into convulsions on the ice, and may have lost teeth, and suffered a broken cheekbone and concussion. He was taken to Hamilton General Hospital in Hamilton, Ont., where he was treated and released, according to a hospital spokesperson.
“That kid [Perezhogin] should never play in North America again,” said Cleveland coach Ron Sommer to the Plain-Dealer. “That’s a travesty. That’s something they’re trying to get out of the game and here we go again.”
Hamilton police told Sommer they have a detective looking into the incident, according to the Plain-Dealer.
“They should prosecute this guy to the fullest,” Sommer said. “This kid’s in trouble and he should be.”
The ensuing game time was marred with fights throughout. The game was eventually won by Cleveland, which still trails the Bulldogs, 3-2, in their playoff series.
“My only thoughts right now is that Garrett Stafford is all right,” Hamilton coach Doug Jarvis said after the game. “That’s what we’re all hoping for.”