By Andrew Miller
The Post and Courier
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – Nikita Kashirsky stood next to the South Carolina Stingrays bench during Monday afternoon’s practice at the Carolina Ice Palace with a pained expression on his face.
The hurt Kashirsky felt wasn’t from the one-hour surgery he had on his broken jaw immediately following Saturday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to Alaska in Game 5 of the Kelly Cup Finals.
No, it was the thought of missing Game 6 Thursday night in Anchorage. The Stingrays lead the best-of-7 series 3-2.
Kashirsky, who broke his jaw in two places after a hit by Aces captain Scott Burt, won’t make the 4,517-mile journey to Alaska on Tuesday.
“It kills me not to be able to be there for my teammates,” Kashirsky managed to say Monday.
South Carolina coach Jared Bednar said Burt’s hit during the third period was hard but clean. Replays of the incident show Burt lowering his shoulder into Kashirsky’s jaw as the two were going for a loose puck along the boards. Kashirsky’s jaw will be wired shut for the next eight weeks.
“You hate to see anyone get hurt on either team,” Bednar said. “It was just one of those things. Injuries are a part of the game. I didn’t think it was a dirty hit. It looks like Nikita just got surprised by it.”