Watch: Meteor shower damages KHL arena

A meteor streaked across the sky of Russia’s Ural Mountains Friday morning, causing sharp explosions and reportedly injuring more than 500 people. The destructive shower also caused damage to the Traktor Sports Palace, home of the Kontinental Hockey League’s Traktor Chelyabinsk.

Traktor’s playoff-bound players were sent home from practice Friday because of structural damage to the walls of their stadium after the meteorite crashed, according to the KHL’s official website. Large-scale events at the arena have been postponed.

Experts will inspect the arena for its safety, and the results of the assessment will be made public Monday.

The elimination rounds of the KHL playoffs begin Wednesday, and Traktor has already earned itself a top-four place in the league’s Eastern conference. Chelyabinsk’s first home games are currently scheduled for Feb. 21 and 22.

Former Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators winger Andrei Kostitsyn plays for Traktor, as does Saskatchewan-born goaltender Michael Garnett, formerly of the Atlanta Thrashers.

“I heard this big bang and jumped up out of my bed in my underwear and got in the ready position,” Garnett told Sportsnet 590 The Fan Friday. “It was just havoc. I looked out the window and saw this big streak across the sky. I thought it might be a missile or something.”

Scientists estimate the meteor weighed 10 tonnes and streaked at supersonic speed.

“This happened at 9:20, and I had to be at the rink at 9:45, so as soon as it happened, the first thing I wanted to do was get out of my building,” Garnett explained. “I got in my car and drove to the rink.

“Some of (my teammates) were already driving to the rink and had video of the sonic boom that blew out the windows. Guys were just shocked.”

The players practised at the arena, but were told afterwards not to return until Monday as the building needed to be inspected for structural damage.

“I’ve been on an adrenalin high all day,” Garnett said. “This is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.”