Craig Cunningham: Ice hockey player 'lucky to be alive' after heart attack

Craig Cunningham
Craig Cunningham held a press conference to thank staff at Banner-University Medical Center on Wednesday

A professional ice hockey player, who collapsed before a game and needed 85 minutes of resuscitation, has said he is "extremely lucky to be alive".

Tucson Roadrunners' Craig Cunningham suffered a cardiac arrest before his American Hockey League match against the Manitoba Moose on 19 November.

However, the 26-year-old faces an uncertain future, with the cause of his illness unknown.

"It's scary, I don't know if I'm going to wake up in the morning," he said.

"It's been tough, man, I'm just trying to take it day-by-day," he added to the Arizona Daily Star. "I don't really know what's next or what's in my future, but I'm extremely happy to be alive.

"As of right now, I probably think that I'm done, I don't know if I'll ever get back to playing pro, but anything can happen."

After the heart attack, Cunningham also suffered a bleed on the lung, and both organs had to be artificially operated to keep him alive.

His mother, Heather, was at the game, and described the experience of watching her son collapse as "horrifying".

"I watched my son die right in front of my eyes," she said. "There was not a doubt in my mind. I thought he was gone.

"I know that he'll be in the NHL. Maybe not as a hockey player, but he will find a way to get there."

Canadian Cunningham was under contract with National Hockey League side Arizona Coyotes, who are affiliated with Tucson.

Roadrunners general manager Doug Soetaert said that he had "never seen anything like this in [his] life".

"It's been an incredible venture, we're happy to see Craig sitting here today, and he's got a full life ahead of him. All we can do is wish him the best."

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