EDINA, Minn. - The last time Tony Proel walked into the Minnesota Made Ice Center, he didn't leave on his feet.
"Yeah, I went out on a stretcher," he says.
Proel was playing last week with his men's team when another skater fell feet up, his blade swiped across Proel's neck.
This was no normal cut, and teammates soon knew it.
"Blood started going through his fingers," said Blaize Brant.
"It actually squirted," added Nick Eichinger.
But there's something Proel didn't know about one member of the team.
"I didn't know Dan was a doctor."
Dr. Dan Gruenstein, a pediatric cardiologist at Amplatz Children's Hospital, wound up being the game's MVP.
"I could actually see the artery severed where the blood was pulsating from," said Gruenstein. "So I just slapped my hand on it. It doesn't take a doctor to stop bleeding. Anybody with a hand can stop bleeding."
Proel was rushed by ambulance to Fairview Southdale. A week later, through his hockey beard, you can barely see the row of stitches.
But there's another picture, Gruenstein believes hockey players and their parents need to see. It was taken in the emergency room where the deep cut in Proel's neck shows clearly the damage a skate blade can inflict.
"That image of the deep cut is going to send some parents to a hockey goods store to buy their kids some neck guards," said Gruenstein.
It's already worked on teammate Tim Maher.
"This is my brand new neck guard," he announced to the team as he pulled it from his bag.
Proel now has one too, built right into his new shirt.
Gruenstein has always worn his, but never with more resolve.
"It's a learning moment for sure," he says, "for all of us."
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