Utah State player who collapsed grateful, tired


Utah State player who collapsed grateful, tired

LOGAN, Utah (AP) A tired but grateful Danny Berger called it a ``miracle'' that he was back to watch his Utah State teammates play days after collapsing on the court and being revived by an assistant trainer.

Berger was released from a Salt Lake City area hospital Saturday and back in Logan, flanked by the trainer credited with saving his life and a father who thought the worst upon receiving word of Tuesday's life-threatening incident while driving in the middle of the Nevada desert.

``I immediately thought Hank Gathers because I'm from there,'' Berger's father, Brian, said about the Loyola Marymount star who collapsed and died at age 23 in 1990 during a West Coast Conference Tournament game because of a heart-muscle disorder.

``I didn't know what to think.''

He quipped that Nevada state troopers let him get away with driving 110 mph as he made his way through the desert toward Utah, where he was headed for the Aggies' game Wednesday night against Brigham Young. The game was postponed but has since been rescheduled for Feb. 19.

Brian Berger also was grateful for Mike Williams, who is in his 14th year as an assistant athletic trainer at Utah State.

Williams was across the court Tuesday when Berger collapsed during a routine practice.

The 43-year-old Williams had been on site in 2007 when rodeo rider Tag Elliott nearly died after being hit in the head with a bull horn. He was among those who helped stabilize Elliott. But until Tuesday, Williams had only taught CPR, and never performed it.

If Tuesday's scene was chaotic, Williams said he didn't have time to notice. He yelled for the manager to call 911 and get the automatic defibrillator (AED).

``I remember looking down and starting CPR, mouth to mouth, the compressions and then hooking the AED up,'' Williams said. ``That's the worst part because it takes 15 seconds to analyze and you're just sitting there waiting.''

The machine finally said ``shock advised'' and Williams administered the shock, then went back to CPR. On the third set, he heard Berger gurgle a bit then blew another really hard breath into him.

``As I pulled up, I actually saw the pulse in his carotid artery before I felt it,'' Williams said.

Only afterward, when he tried to call the head trainer, did he realize how traumatic the situation was.

The phone was ringing and ringing but no one answered. Williams finally realized he had dialed 10 random digits and that his hands were shaking.

``Afterward the adrenaline got there, but fortunately that was afterward,'' Williams said.

Berger still doesn't remember any of that, only practicing defense in preparation for the rivalry game, then feeling dizzy as if he had stood up too fast.

``One of my teammates made a shot in my face when I was guarding him and I was kind of upset about it,'' he recalled Saturday.

Four days later, he looked forward to a reunion with the rest of his teammates, who will be wearing ``12'' patches on the jerseys. First, he wanted a nap.

``I can't explain everything. It's just a miracle,'' said Danny Berger, his left arm in a sling to protect the miniature defibrillator installed so doctors can monitor his heart remotely should there be any further problems.

Doctors cannot fully explain what caused the 22-year-old to collapse, but said he was born with a tendency for this to happen because of his heart having two to three extra beats, according to Dr. Jared Brunch of the Intermountain Medical Center where he was transported Tuesday via medical helicopter.

The elder Berger said Brunch told him Brunch is much more likely to have a heart attack than Danny, and that Danny is less likely to have a problem than anybody on the team because of the defibrillator.

The starting forward remains hopeful he will play again but is taking it day by day. Six weeks is the earliest he can get back out on the court.

``I just have to trust the experts,'' Brian Berger said.

Of course, Danny's mom is a little less enthusiastic.

``She just wants me to be in the library for the rest of my life,'' Danny joked.

All were grateful to be in Logan, getting ready to watch a basketball game with their son.

``There's literally dozens of people who have played a role in this whole process just in these last four days,'' Brian Berger said. ``And every single person has done the exact right thing that they needed to do, starting with Mike. ... If it hadn't been for Mike and the quick response ... I've got nothing but gratitude.

``Four days ago we didn't know what was going to happen and (Friday) Danny was walking on the treadmill. When you have something like this happen, it's that time period where it's either fatal or not, or brain damage or not.''

Danny, though he doesn't remember Williams at his side Tuesday, was glad to have him there Saturday during a press conference before the game against Western Oregon.

``I tried to tell the doctor that I want (Williams) to be my personal defibrillator but they didn't buy it, they had to put one in there,'' Danny Berger said. ``I owe Mike a lot. I can't ever pay him back. He's one of the smartest guys I know, and a lifelong friend.''

Quick Links

3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

You may think this was an ugly four-game road trip for the Caps, but with a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Monday, Washington managed to earn five out of a possible eight points.

Here is why the Caps beat the Sabres and managed to save the road swing.

A missed high-stick (maybe) from Ovechkin

Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game in the second period as he deflected a high-shot from Christian Djoos down past goalie Chad Johnson. But did the deflection come on a high stick? The play was reviewed and the goal was ultimately upheld. According to the NHL, it was determined that "video review supported the Referee's call on the ice that Alex Ovechkin's stick was at or below the height of the crossbar when he tipped the puck into the Buffalo net."

NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May broke the play down during the second intermission and made his case for why the NHL actually got the call wrong.

Was that a high stick? I don't know. As compelling an argument as May made, it still looks inconclusive which means the review made the right call. What surprises me is that the referee did not disallow the goal on the initial call.

Whether the review is truly inconclusive or flat out wrong, Washington was fortunate to walk away from this sequence with the goal.


A centimeter of ice

Hockey is a game of inches and it took less than an inch to put Washington up 2-0. When an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot hit off the boards and bounced back to the front of the net, it sparked a scrum next to goalie Chad Johnson. Eventually, John Carlson was able to get a swipe on the puck sending it trickling to the goal line, but Kyle Okposo was there waiting and appeared to kick it out to safety just before it crossed. A review triggered by the Situation Room, however, revealed that the puck had just barely managed to cross the goal line before Okposo got to it.

Here's the view the NHL released after the review:

Philipp Grubauer's third period

After dominating the first 40 minutes of the game and taking a 2-0 lead, Buffalo predictably made a late push in the third period with two goals to pull within one. Washington outshot the Sabres in the first and second periods, but Buffalo reversed that trend in a big way in the third as they outshot the Caps 17-6. Grubauer turned aside 15 of those shots and was impressive after barely being tested in the first two periods.


Quick Links

3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

Coming off an ugly 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, a Buffalo Sabres team missing star Jack Eichel was just what the doctor ordered for the Caps to get back on track. Washington dominated the first two periods and then survived a late surge from Buffalo for the 3-2 win.

After battling to a scoreless first, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson spotted Washington a 2-0 lead in the second. They then held on in the third period as Buffalo began to tilt the ice in their favor, with Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring the empty-netter to put this game out of reach. Evander Kane would pull Buffalo within one, but with only three seconds left it was too little, too late.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin opened up the scoring in the second period as he deflected down an innocent shot from Christian Djoos past Chad Johnson.

Ovechkin also set a physical tone as he battled with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen all game long. After taking a high elbow from Ristolainen early in the game Ovechkin skated up to Ristolainen prior to the faceoff on his next shift and let him know that it was on. 

2. John Carlson: Carlson had a hand in both of Washington's first two goals. He recorded a secondary assist on Ovechkin's goal as he made a blue line pass to Djoos which Djoos fired on net and Ovechkin deflected. Carlson then managed to hit the puck past the goal line in a scrum next to Johnson. It looked initially like Kyle Okposo had managed to kick out the puck just before it crossed, but Carlson was awarded the goal as a review showed the puck had completely crossed the line.

3. Philipp Grubauer: A Sabres team that ranks last in the NHL in scoring and that was also without its leading scorer did not test Grubauer much in the first two periods. Facing a 2-0 deficit, however, Buffalo made a third period push to try to tie the game, but Grubauer was up to the task as he turned aside 15 of the 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 32 total saves on the night.