NHL referee stretchered off ice in ‘scary moment’ during Penguins-Lightning game

A scary moment involving a referee stopped play during Saturday afternoon’s Lightning-Penguins game in Pittsburgh.

During the third period of a back-and-forth game between the two Eastern Conference teams, referee Steve Kozari collided with Tampa Bay defenseman Haydn Fleury at center ice of PPG Paints Arena at the 6:11 mark of the third.

According to the Associated Press, Kozari was able to move his arms before he was stretchered off the ice.

The NHL said in a statement after the game that Kozari was “transported to UPMC Mercy Hospital for precautionary reasons” and that he was “conscious and alert, has the use of all of his extremities and is expected to make a full recovery.”

NHL referee Steve Kozari (40) lays on the ice after an accidental collision with Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Haydn Fleury (7) during the third period of the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena. Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The Pittsburgh Penguins medical team and trainers and attend to NHL referee Steve Kozari (40) after an accidental collision with Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Haydn Fleury (not pictured) during the third period of the game at PPG Paints Arena. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

“That was tough to watch,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said, according to the Associated Press, after his team lost, 5-4. “But [Fleury], I went into the locker room during that pause. Naturally, he was a little shook up. It was just one of those plays that was kind of a freak accident. But hopefully, both guys will be OK.”

According to NHL.com, Kozari has worked 1,151 regular-season games and 136 postseason contests.

The medical staff tends to referee Steve Kozari after he and Tampa Bat Lightning’s Haydn Fleury collided in the third period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Saturday, April 6, 2024. AP

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said, per The Athletic, he only caught a small glimpse of what he called a “scary moment.”

“I caught it out of the corner of my eye,” Sullivan said. “At the last second, they collided and I believe they hit helmet-to-helmet. It was really a scary collision because I don’t think, really, Steve was able to break his fall.

“That was a scary moment.”

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