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Here’s what it feels like to be hit by an NHL puck

Postmedia photographer Ian Kucerak is fine, his camera not so good

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It’s not uncommon for photographers to be hit by pucks in NHL games, but Postmedia photographer Ian Kucerak managed to capture the exact moment he was hit by a stray shot on Monday.

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The incident occurred in the third period of Monday’s game between the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Rangers.

Kucerak sat in the Rangers end zone, photographing an encounter between Oilers Sam Gagner and Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. While clicking through a series of photos, he managed to catch a split second before the puck hit the front of his camera.

Winning and Shattenkirk moments before impact.
Winning and Shattenkirk moments before impact. Photo by Ian Kucerak

The resulting photo shows Gagner and Shattenkirk being scrambled by a mysterious dark cloud. Kucerak used a telephoto lens with a minimum focus of 1.5 meters, which means anything up close looks very blurry.

“I was lucky he just broke the filter. The goal is good, ”he said.

What a puck looks like right before it hits your camera.
What a puck looks like right before it hits your camera. Photo by Ian Kucerak

Any NHL arena contains small holes cut out of plexiglass through which press photographers can stick cameras equipped with telephoto lenses. Cameras are rarely hit by direct shots at the net, but they are frequently hit by goalies or defensemen clearing the puck.

An exception came in 2016, when Minnesota Wild forward Tyler Graovac shot a puck directly into the photographer’s hole, spilling blood on an unfortunate photographer.