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A minor league hockey player, knocked out in a fight, is in stable condition

A minor league player for the Washington Capitals’ American Hockey League affiliate was kept in a Pennsylvania hospital overnight Tuesday after being knocked out during a scary in-game fight.

Kale Kessy, a Hershey Bears forward, was in stable condition, the team said, after he and Derek Sheppard, a defenseman for the Charlotte Checkers, squared off following a faceoff at the 11:30 mark of the second period in Hershey’s Giant Center.

The two took off their helmets and dropped gloves, landing a couple of blows before Sheppard’s right hand dropped Kessy to the ice. Sheppard dropped, too, and stopped trying to land blows, instantly signaling to the bench for help with Kessy clearly unconscious.

Medical personnel for both teams rushed onto the ice and, after eight minutes, Kessy, 27, was placed on a stretcher and, with an oxygen mask over his face, he was taken off.

“Per our media and medical team, Kale Kessy was struck in a fight. He lost, but regained consciousness on the ice. He is alert, and in stable condition, and being transported to a local medical facility. Kessy told his teammates before leaving the ice, ‘go win the game,’” the team tweeted.

“He’s doing better,” Bears Coach Spencer Carbery said after the game. “CT scan came back positive, but they’re going to keep him overnight just for observation. All the reports back from the hospital are positive.”

Both teams left the ice and considered whether to cancel the rest of the game. “At one point, we decided we were going to cancel it,” Bryan Helmer, Hershey’s vice president of hockey operations, said (via “Once everything settled down and guys kind of refocused over in their dressing room and in ours, we came up with the idea ‘Let’s play this out.’”

Team doctors updated Kessy’s condition for players on both teams and veteran forward Matt Moulson said the team “felt a lot better when we got cleared on what was going on with him.”

Hershey won, 6-1.

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