ASIAGO, Italy - The entire first round of the Italian hockey league season has suspended following the sudden death of a Canadian defenceman during a game.
Darcy Robinson of Kamloops, B.C., dropped to the ice without being hit at 3:25 of the first period of Asiago's game against Renon on Thursday night and was later declared dead at a local hospital, Asiago said. He was 26.
The cause of death wasn't given.
The local prosecutor's office opened an official inquiry Friday in line with normal procedures, the ANSA news agency reported.
The game was called off at 7:32 of the second period after Asiago team officials returned from the hospital. The other three league games Thursday night were suspended after the second period.
Also, a second-round match between Asiago and Pontebba scheduled for Saturday was postponed.
Robinson, who played with nearly half a dozen teams in the North American minor leagues before transferring to Asiago in 2005, was in his second season with the Italian club. He held dual Canadian-Italian citizenship.
Robinson played junior hockey in Saskatoon and Red Deer. He was selected 233rd overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1999 draft.
Prior to playing in Italy, Robinson played for the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the ECHL's Wheeling Nailers.
He had six goals and three assists with 66 penalty minutes for Asiago last season.
Peter Doyle, Robinson's former minor hockey coach, ran into the Doyle over the summer in Kamloops.
"He looked great," Doyle told the Kamloops Daily News. "He was happy.
Doyle coached the defenceman for three years, through peewee and bantam.
"He was always one of the team leaders, captain or assistant captain of the hockey club," he said. "He was a fierce competitor. He was a big, strong defenceman. Skated well."
Robinson moved up to the WHL in September 1997, cracking the roster of the Saskatoon Blades. In January 2001, Robinson, along with Cam Ondrik and Martin Erat, was traded to the Red Deer Rebels.
The trade worked out well for Robinson, as the Rebels went on to win the Memorial Cup in Regina in May 2001.
"He always had a presence on the ice," said Doyle. "He was a big boy. He skated well. He had a tremendous shot. I remember him coming down the ice a few times and getting across the blue-line, he'd let one go and everyone just parted." The incident follows a spate of recent deaths on the soccer field.
Sevilla midfielder Antonio Puerta died after collapsing during a Spanish league match against Getafe last month, and Chaswe Nsofwa, a 26-year-old Zambian striker in the Israeli league, died the next day after collapsing during a practice session.
Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe died at the 2003 Confederations Cup in France.
The last player to die in the Italian hockey league was 19-year-old Miran Schrott, who took a hit in the chest during a second-division game between Courmayeur and Gardena in 1992.
-With files from The Canadian Press