BUFFALO – It was a frightening few minutes for both fans at HSBC Arena and Czech teammates when defenceman Petr Senkerik was lying on the ice motionless after being hit by Canadian forward Zack Kassian on Tuesday.
One day after the check, the former WHL player feels better but will most probably be sidelined after suffering a slight concussion.
“Luckily, it’s not as bad as it looked yesterday,” the Czech team’s general manager Petr Komers said. “He feels better, but he won’t play tomorrow.”
According to doctors, Senkerik couldn’t remember what happened in the seconds after he was hit on his chin. Komers doesn’t exclude a comeback during the tournament if the symptoms disappear and the doctors give him the green light.
The player from Czech second-tier club Havlickuv Brod was lying on the ice for three minutes before he was carried off on a stretcher and transported to hospital.
Senkerik was hit by Kassian, who has to sit out a two-game suspension, for what is called a check to the head and neck area in international hockey or a blind-side hit in NHL terms.
The International Ice Hockey Federation has become more rigorous against hits to the head since the 2002 rulebook was released with a clear message that head shots would not be tolerated.
“There is no such thing as a clean hit to the head in international ice hockey,” IIHF President René Fasel said in a campaign before the 2010 Olympic Winter Games (see video).
The rule Checking to the Head & Neck Area was adopted following research into the cause of concussions after being accepted by the national associations at the Congress.
The IIHF’s goal is simple – to ban such checks as seen yesterday also by two Slovak players in their game against Team USA, and to protect players from career-ending injuries due to head hits caused by recklessness rather than tough hockey.