Roadrunners try to move on with Cunningham on their minds

Nov 25, 2016, 2:23 PM | Updated: 4:43 pm
Arizona Coyotes left wing Craig Cunningham plays during an NHL preseason hockey game against the Lo...
Arizona Coyotes left wing Craig Cunningham plays during an NHL preseason hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings in Los Angeles, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. The Kings won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

TUCSON, Ariz. — The Tucson Roadrunners won’t return to any kind of normalcy until they know teammate Craig Cunningham is going to be OK, but hockey is providing a therapy of sorts for the Coyotes’ American Hockey League affiliate.

“Nobody really knows how to act in these situations, but hockey players are creatures of habit so I think being at the rink is a good thing,” Tucson coach Mark Lamb said Friday after practice at the Tucson Convention Center. “We’ve all come together and we’re all very supportive of one another throughout the organization — and that’s from Phoenix right down to us. People have had tragedies and death in their lives but nobody’s really dealt with this so we’re dealing with it one day at a time and it’s all about Cunny; it’s not about us.”

Cunningham remained in critical but stable condition at Tucson’s Banner-University Medical Center after collapsing on the ice before a home game on Saturday against the Manitoba Moose. Medical personnel from both the Roadrunners and Moose cut away Cunningham’s jersey and performed chest compressions before putting him on a stretcher and into an ambulance.

The organization has not said what caused Cunningham to collapse and Lamb reiterated Friday that doctors are still trying to determine that.

“That’s one of the hardest parts,” Lamb said. “We just don’t know.”

Cunningham, 26, has been one of the Roadrunners’ best players this season. He scored the first two goals in franchise history last month, and he is tied for the team lead in points with 13. Linemate Brendan Perlini said at least a couple of teammates visit Cunningham each night, even though they can’t talk to him because he is unconscious.

“You obviously want to pay your respect to him,” Perlini said. “I’ve never really been a part of anything like that, hockey-wise. The unfortunate part is that the world goes on and you can’t stop what you’re doing. You’ve got to almost get back into a routine but it’s hard.”

Roadrunners forward Christian Fischer said the hospital visits are partly to lend support to Cunningham’s family. Cunningham’s mother, Heather, flew to Tucson from British Columbia last week and was in the stands for the game in which her son collapsed. She and her two other sons, Ryan and Mitchel, are at the hospital.

“I can’t even imagine the thoughts going through their minds so we’re always bringing them food, doing what we can because they’re probably not leaving the hospital too often,” Fischer said.

“We get to go see Craig. His mom lets us in the room. Just holding his hand and being able to pray with him is helpful. It’s pretty tough but it’s all we can do right now. It’s out of our control. We’re all praying for him and thinking about him every night.”

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Roadrunners try to move on with Cunningham on their minds