Fan grabs goaltender's stick and hits him over head

MOSCOW Mon Mar 15, 2010 1:28pm EDT

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian ice hockey team Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg were fined $34,000 Monday after one of their fans leapt on to the rink and whacked a visiting player over the head with his own stick.

Toward the end of the first period in Sunday's Continental Hockey League (KHL) playoff game against Salavat Yulayev Ufa, a home fan jumped over protective glass boards, grabbed the stick from reserve Ufa goaltender Vitaly Kolesnik and attacked him.

"I guess I was lucky," Kolesnik, who suffered a deep cut but escaped a serious injury, told reporters.

"Doctors who treated me said if the hit was just a centimeter or two to the side, I could have been dead or left paralyzed," added the 30-year-old Kazakh, who played for the Colorado Avalanche in the NHL in 2005-06.

The KHL fined the club from the Urals 1 million roubles ($34,000) Monday for "failing to provide adequate security."

Ufa coach Igor Zakharkin said: "It looked like that mad guy kept hitting our player with a baseball bat. The blood was all over the place. We're still in shock.

"Most of our players didn't feel like playing after what had happened and our foreign players were literally scared but we were told the game must go on. The game didn't seem important anymore. No wonder we lost (4-3)."

Yekaterinburg police said they would press criminal charges against the fan.

The teams were back on the ice 24 hours later, with several hundred police and security personnel inside the arena protecting the players.

Monday's game went without incident, Ufa crushing the home team 8-1 to clinch the series 3-1 and advance to the conference semi-finals.

(Reporting by Gennady Fyodorov; Editing by Sonia Oxley)

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