Hockey player collapsed during pickup game

Collingwood Connection
Tuesday, February 22, 2022

The Collingwood Jr. A Blues and the Aurora Tigers were set to play an important game on Family Day (Feb. 21) at the Eddie Bush Memorial Arena. 

However, hours before puck drop, the Ontario Junior Hockey League clubs teamed up to save a man’s life. 

According to a press release from the OJHL, a man was playing in a pickup game at the arena when he suffered a heart attack.

Trainers Jen Vaicunas of Aurora and Lindsey O’Neil of Collingwood came to his aid. The AED (automated external defibrillator) was retrieved from the lobby and attached to the victim.

Aurora Head Coach Greg Johnston was alerted to the incident as he walked into the lobby. He looked for the defibrillator, noticed it had been removed from its case and headed for the ice.

The former Boston Bruin and Toronto Maple Leaf is a constable with the Barrie Police Service who has administered CPR twice while on duty.

“This situation goes to show the value of having AEDs in every sporting complex,” Johnston said. “Without it, this would have been a lot more of a battle. It’s a different scenario, if we don’t have that 1 o’clock game on Family Day. He’s got two trained trainers with him. If they’re not there, it’s a different story. Jen and Lindsey did an awesome job. They got onto this quickly and that’s invaluable to the gentleman’s success and recovery and they did amazing work.”

The Blues awarded Lindsey O’Neil ‘Player of the Game’ honours after the game and are planning a pre-game ceremony to thank the trio of responders when Aurora visits Collingwood later this season.

John Edwards is a reporter at The Connection, covering Collingwood and The Blue Mountains You can reach him at 

“The AED was on him, doing an analysis,” he said. “It required a jolt and then Lindsey and Jen started with CPR, doing the compressions.”

Dan Thurman, Collingwood’s deputy fire chief, said firefighters arrived on scene and took over first aid until paramedics arrived.

“Thank you to the Collingwood Blues for housing the AED in the arena, something every facility should have,” a post from the Aurora Tigers Instagram page said. “Teamwork at its finest.”

The defibrillator analyzed that the man “was breathing but the breathing was extremely laboured” before he was taken to hospital, Johnston said. A second shock was not required.

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