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Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

NHL: APR 12 Ducks at Panthers

MIAMI, FL - April 12: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen (5) shouts to a teammate during the game between the Anaheim Ducks and the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, April 12, 2022 at the FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, FL (Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.