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Kitchener Rangers defenceman Ben Fanelli is hospitalized in critical but stable condition after suffering skull and facial fractures during an Ontario Hockey League game, the team said on its website Saturday.

The 16-year-old was injured during Friday night's 4-0 win over the visiting Erie Otters and was airlifted to a Hamilton hospital after being taken to a local hospital.

He also suffered a cut above the eye but was conscious as he was taken off the ice.

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"Ben's parents and family experienced something that we all wish would never happen," Rangers CEO Steve Bienkowski said on the website. "Our immediate focus will be to assist the Fanelli family and our players as we all deal with Ben's injuries."

According to the Waterloo Region Record, Fanelli was checked into the end boards by Erie's Michael Liambas and his head went hard into the glass, sending his helmet up in the air.

Fanelli then fell to the ice and a pool of blood from the cut on his face formed under his head.

Liambas was ejected from the game after receiving a match penalty for boarding.

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