Bruins prospect Jakub Lauko suffered what appeared to be a significant knee injury in the opening minute of the opening game of the World Junior Championship Thursday.
Lauko, 19, playing for the host Czech Republic, was clipped from behind, causing him to twist his right leg as he was hit head-on by another player.
Lauko, a forward, fell to the ice and immediately clutched his leg 53 seconds into the game. It was his first shift. He eventually made his way to the bench, and was seen on camera hopping on his left leg down the hallway to the locker room.
“He obviously will not return,” analyst Ray Ferraro said as the TSN broadcast showed Lauko sitting in a chair, rinkside, in street clothes with his right leg immobilized and elevated in the third period of the Czechs’ 4-2 victory over Russia. “You can’t help but feel sorry . . . Just brutal to see.”
After the game, it was reported Lauko injured his medial collateral ligament (MCL) and is out for the tournament. He will have an MRI Friday.
It is the second time in three weeks Lauko was knocked out of a game. On Dec. 7, while skating for the Providence Bruins, he was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a collision. He had four goals and four assists in 18 games with Providence. After passing a concussion test, he was cleared to return to the Czech Republic to play in the WJC on Dec. 17.
His play in the preseason had Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy comparing Lauko to a young Brad Marchand.
Lauko was selected by the Bruins in the third round (No. 77 overall) in 2018. He had 21 goals and 20 assists in 44 games for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, scoring the game-winner in the final minute of the final game of the round-robin of the Memorial Cup.
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