GM on honoring collapsed captain: Fans can get closure - Tucson News Now

GM on honoring collapsed captain: Fans can get closure

Cunningham's gear still in his locker. (Source: Tucson News Now) Cunningham's gear still in his locker. (Source: Tucson News Now)
(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The captain makes his return to the ice, as the Tucson Roadrunners get set to honor their leader.

Tucson News Now has been following the recovery of Craig Cunningham since November, when the Roadrunners hockey player collapsed on the rink during pregame warm-ups.

The goal Saturday night will be to fill the seats of the Tucson Convention Center. It's not just a chance for the fans to come and honor the team captain, but a chance for them to get closure from that fateful night, said Roadrunners General Manager Doug Soetaert.

"It's something that we feel we have to do as an organization, and that we want to do. It's good for the community, because there were a lot of people that were affected by this that were here that night and watching the game before it started. I think there were about 4,000 people in the building that night, and every one of them stood here and wondered what was going on. So obviously, it'll be some closure for them," he said.

The team has been trying to move forward ever since November 19, when he collapsed on the ice before a game against the Manitoba Moose.

The AHL squad practiced Friday for the Saturday, Sunday series against the San Jose Barracuda. Cunningham is expected to drop the ceremonial first puck Saturday night.

"We're honoring Craig for the time that he was here," Soetaert said.

Cunningham's memory is not far from their minds at all. Supportive signs line the hallway to the TCC locker room, where the captain's helmet and name-plate are still intact in his locker. But he hasn't practiced or played with the team since Nov. 19 when he suffered a heart condition on the ice, and had his life saved at Tucson hospitals. Doctors were later forced to amputate part of his leg.

The team has been working to stay focused and move forward ever since.

"It's something that he would want. I know his mother said the same thing, that we need to keep moving on," Soetaert said. "It's been an emotional drain but I think we're all through that. I think once we knew he was getting better and his life was going to be saved we started marching in the right direction, and I think we all feel a lot better for it."

Soetaert said fans should get to the arena early for the pregame festivities Saturday night. The game starts at 7:05 p.m.

You can buy tickets for the game here on Ticketmaster.

Copyright 2017 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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