Over the summer, former Capitals and Hershey Bears defenseman Aaron Ness signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Arizona Coyotes. Ness suited up for his first preseason game with the Coyotes on Sunday, against the Vegas Golden Knights, but he wouldn’t make it out of the first period.
Golden Knights forward Keegan Kolesar landed a hard hit to Ness’ head as the defenseman crossed the neutral zone. Kolesar received a five-minute major penalty for charging but did not get a game misconduct for the hit.
The first NHL preseason game isn’t even over and we already have a disgusting hit, Yikes.
— Nathan "Grav" (@NathanGraviteh) September 15, 2019
Ness stayed down on the ice long after the hit, and was later helped off and into the dressing room. There was no news on whether Ness went through concussion protocol.
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) September 15, 2019
Kolesar, who had 90 penalty minutes in 74 games with the AHL Chicago Wolves last season, commented on the hit after the game. He said that it was “unfortunate” that Ness got hurt.
“Honestly, that’s a part of my game,” Kolesar said to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I have to use my size to my advantage, and when the hit presents itself, I’m going to take full advantage of it. Unfortunately, he got hurt.”
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant stood behind Kolesar, saying, “For me, it looked worse than what it was. “The guy was going through the neutral zone, sort of fumbled the puck, and he leaned forward. Keegan was coming to finish his check on him, and he was pretty low when he hit him. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.”
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has not said whether they will be reviewing the play.
Prior to leaving the game, Ness contributed with an assist on Vinnie Hinostroza’s goal to put the Coyotes ahead 2-1. The Coyotes would eventually drop the game 6-2, thanks in part to a hat trick by Max Pacioretty.
It's just preseason, but hockey is back. And not shocking, a former @TheHersheyBears player is on the scoresheet. @Aaron_Ness chips in an assist on a goal for the @ArizonaCoyotes. Hope he gets a chance to push for time in AZ. Had an unreal year in Hershey last season.
— Zack Fisch (@zackfisch) September 15, 2019
Ness had a career-best year with the Hershey Bears in the 2018-19 season. Over 71 games, Ness tallied 55 point, with 50 of them coming on assists. His point total was third-highest on the Bears for the season, behind Mike Sgarbossa (65) and Riley Barber (60.) He also
There were no updates from Arizona following the game about Ness’ status. However, with a history of head injuries, it’d be understandable if the Coyotes were being extra cautious.
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk
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