Goalie Takes Charge When Opposing Team’s Player Falls Unconscious During Game

CPR, AED Saves Player’s Life in a ‘Miracle’

By Ross Forman

Tom Napholz, playing in a 10:40 p.m. adult league game on Thursday, March 1, at the Twin Rinks Ice Pavilion in Buffalo Grove, collided with an opponent in the second period. Both fell to the ice, but got up. Napholz asked the opponent if he was OK and took a few more strides.

Napholz then collapsed, falling face-down on the ice right in front of his team’s bench. He was, no doubt, already unconscious as he didn’t put his arms out to brace his fall, players said.

Tom’s older brother, Mike, was on the bench at the time and quickly went to check on Tom, as did others in the game.

“I looked at Tom and heard what sounded like him snoring,” Mike said.

They immediately realized it was serious. Play stopped; the scorekeeper called 911 and the referees sprinted to the other rink in the building, blowing a whistle to stop that game and asking if there was a doctor.

Meanwhile Oliver Urrego, the goalie on the team Napholz was facing, sprinted over to Napholz and took charge after seeing that Napholz’ ears were turning blue. Napholz’ goalie, Mike Tuntland, started CPR.

Urrego told players to get the AED, which the rink installed years ago. “A couple of months ago, (my team) won a (league) championship at Buffalo Grove and (as we were celebrating), I remember seeing the AED at the rink and thinking, ‘How awesome, God-forbid I ever have to use it, but at least I know it’s there.’”

Mike was holding his brother’s head and “freaking out the whole time,” he said two days later.

Urrego was “under control and running things,” Mike said.

Paramedics arrived about five minutes later and Napholz is now at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville.

“The paramedics praised Oliver – he saved my brother’s life,” Mike said. “The emergency room physician told Tom, ‘What they did for you (on the ice) saved your life. By all accounts, you should be dead right now.’

“It’s a miracle … We’re so grateful Oliver was there and able to do what he did.”

And this is where the story truly takes a divine turn.

On May 24, 2017, Urrego’s father-in-law, Tom Schuld, spent the night at their house in Long Grove. Urrego heard a thud upstairs and thought someone might be breaking into their home.

It turned out that the thud was Schuld hitting the floor; he was out cold, in sudden cardiac arrest.

Urrego and his wife, Erica, did CPR off her lead and the paramedics used the AED on him three times.

Schuld ultimately spent nine days in a coma, then walked out of hospital. “We come to find out that, because of the CPR and AED, his life was saved,” Urrego said.

“The second we got (Napholz’) helmet off, I saw my father-in-law; he had the same symptoms, was acting the same.”

Urrego gave Napholz the needed chest compressions, and when it was time to use the AED, it was the first time Urrego ever used the machine.

Napholz was shocked twice.

“After that second shock, it definitely re-started his motor; he started getting his color back; he started to respond, and then about 30 seconds later, he opened his eyes,” Urrego said. “It was an absolute miracle, for sure.”

As he was being wheeled off the ice, Napholz looked at some of the players and said, ‘Holy @#$%, that sucked!’ Napholz doesn’t remember saying that, but Urrego laughed at it.

“I wasn’t as panicked as I was with my father-in-law because I knew what needed to be done,” said Urrego, 33, who has been playing at Twin Rinks for four years.

Tom Schuld has a brother, named Mike.

Tom Napholz has a brother, named Mike.

Napholz is at Condell, one door down from where Schuld was, and he has the same doctor as Schuld.

“It’s the weirdest divine intervention ever,” Urrego said.

“Life is precious.  You can’t take any day for granted because nothing is promised,” said Mike, 56, who lives in Elk Grove Village, has been skating at Twin Rinks for about eight years, and teammates with his brother for four years.  “I’m gonna find out when Oliver’s next game is, so I can go and thank him personally, give him a big hug.”

Tom, 53, who lives in Crystal Lake, is resting at the hospital as tests are being done.  He hopes to be released early next week.

“I’m doing fine, other than the fact that three guys were beating the crap out of my sternum and someone electrocuted me twice,” Tom said, laughing on Saturday.

“They saved my life … I can’t be grateful enough for what they did for me.”

Tom said his hockey career is now in his doctor’s hand, “but I absolutely want to skate again.”

Mike said he’s received numerous emails and text messages about his brother’s condition – many from players on opposing teams in the Twin Rinks league.  He’s gotten hospital visits from players on his team, opposing teams, and rink personnel.  Urrego visited him at the hospital, too.

Ross Forman has written about Illinois high school hockey for more than 15 years and is the only sportswriter to have covered Illinois High School hockey every year during that stretch. He played locally and then at Indiana University before becoming a referee. Ross was a referee for the State Championship game several years ago at the United Center. Contact Ross by email at Rossco814@aol.com.

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