Stenekes survives scary incident at hockey arena

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Sandpoint Hockey Association raising funds for a new rink defibrillator

SANDPOINT — The Sandpoint Hockey Association is alive and well and all are extremely thankful after a close-call for co-founder and good friend George Stenekes, who suffered a heart attack during a recent hockey game in Post Falls.

The Sandpoint FireHawks, one of two current Sandpoint Hockey teams, was playing against a team of firemen from Coeur d’Alene when Stenekes collapsed on the ice during the second period.

“I helped clear the net and got the puck out of the zone and then everything went black and I have no memory of what happened to me,” said Stenekes, 73, who is fine and recovering at home.

Luckily there were four paramedics on the opposing team and they immediately began CRP. Without a defibrillator unit available at Frontier Ice Arena, there was no choice but to continue CPR until the ambulance arrived 20 minutes later.

“Knowing these guys (the firefighters), they probably took it as another day at the office,” said Stenekes. “Certainly not in my book. I owe them more than I can ever repay and I want them to know that I love them all.”

Teammate and longtime friend Robert Pierce witnessed the event, and decided something needed to be done and is trying to raise more than $2,000 to provide a defibrillator for the Arena, in case the same thing ever happens in the future.

“It was a wake up call for all of us, and for the rink,” claimed Pierce, one of the many local hardcore hockey fans who know Stenekes. “He’s a nice guy, generous, he takes care of the Sandpoint Hockey Association.”

In 1996 Pierce, from North Idaho Animal Hospital, posted flyers on local telephone poles in Sandpoint looking for fellow hockey players to commute to Spokane and play. Stenekes was the first responder and the two have been close friends since, forming the first of many teams from Sandpoint over the years.

“George is the rock of our sport in North Idaho,” described Pierce. “Hockey is more than a team sport, it is a comradeship that is difficult to describe. It becomes part of who you are and we are very quick to support each other.”

Stenekes organizes SHA, finds the perfect fit for new players coming into the area, and is always a positive and generous force moving forward. He hopes to be back on the ice by December after installation of a cardiac defibrillator.

The SHA is currently raising funds for a defibrillator. If you would like to help this effort, donations can be dropped off at North Idaho Animal Hospital, or a check can be sent to: SHA, 320 S. Ella, Sandpoint, ID, 83864.

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