Sarnia Sting right wing Nail Yakupov, NHL Central Scouting's top-rated North American skater, sat out Sunday's game against the Windsor Spitfires in order to recuperate from facial injuries received Saturday evening.
Yakupov needed stitches to his mouth and, according to Canadian Press, may have suffered a concussion after taking a hit to the head 11:20 into the second period of Saturday's 4-0 victory against the Owen Sound Attack in an Ontario Hockey League contest.
Attack captain Michael Halmo was given a five-minute charging major and a game misconduct on the play, which Sting coach Jacques Beaulieu described as "dirty."
"I thought it was blatantly dirty," Beaulieu told Canadian Press. "Nail took a lot of stitches to the face, it's all marked up. Halmo didn't hit anything else but his head. We've got to take these hits out of out of the game and protect our kids."
Yakupov, who is first on the team with 31 goals and second with 69 points in 42 games this season, is listed as day-to-day. The team's website said Yakupov will be evaluated by a doctor Monday. Yakupov already has missed time nine games this season with a knee injury, and two more while serving a suspension for not participating in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
The injury occurred while Yakupov was cutting across the ice in the Attack zone when he was leveled by Halmo. The 5-foot-10.5, 189-pound Russian-born forward, who went down immediately, tried to regain his footing before falling back to the ice.
After being treated by the team trainer and doctor on the ice, Yakupov got up under his own power and went to the dressing room.
"I watched (the hit) over and over during the second period intermission," Beaulieu told Dave Borody of the team's website. "He hit him in the head and should be suspended for a long time."
Beaulieu noted that the only injuries suffered by Yakupov on Saturday were "stitches in his lip and some other scrapes on his face."
"We took a picture of him and will be sending it to the league," he added.
Borody also reported that there was an Ontario Hockey League referee supervisor in attendance at the game. Following Sunday's game against the Spitfires, the Sting will next host the Saginaw Spirit on Wednesday at RBC Centre.
Following Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale