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Sven Baertschi dedicates Canucks win to friend

Vancouver forward is former roommate of Craig Cunningham, who collapsed before AHL game Saturday

by Jerry Brown / Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As his first-period goal slipped into the Arizona Coyotes net Wednesday, Vancouver Canucks forward Sven Baertschi looked at the part of his stick where he had written the word "Cunny" and smiled.

In 2010, Baertschi and Craig Cunningham were roommates with Portland of the Western Hockey League. They lived together for a few months, but the friendship remains.

On Saturday, Cunningham, the captain of the Coyotes' American Hockey League affiliate in Tucson, collapsed on the ice moments before a game against Manitoba. Cunningham was given CPR on the ice and remains in a Tucson hospital in critical but stable condition.

Playing against Cunningham's organization two hours from where his friend is hospitalized, Baertschi had a goal and two assists in Vancouver's 4-1 win against the Coyotes and dedicated the game to Cunningham afterward.

Tweet from @Canucks: . @SvenBaertschi supporting his former junior teammate and roommate Craig Cunningham. #CunnyCan

"It was a good feeling and a tough feeling at the same time," Baertschi said. "I wanted to play for him tonight, so it worked out pretty well."

Video: VAN@NYR: Baertschi roofs Skille's feed to pad lead

Baertschi remembers returning to Portland from an international tournament. His previous roommate was traded during the tournament, and that's when Cunningham moved in.

"I walked in and Cunny is sitting in the living room, with no shirt on, staring at me," he said, laughing. "I knew right away, this must be an awesome guy. He really took care of me there. It's been tough to keep in touch over the years but I will always remember the great times we had in Portland."

Baertschi has been trying to get as much information as he can on Cunningham's condition. He decided the best way he could show his support was to play for his friend.

His Canucks teammates knew the game Wednesday was special for Baertschi and they were happy he played such a big role in the win.

 "You never wish that kind of thing on anyone and Sven told us all what a great guy Craig is," forward Alexandre Burrows said. The line of Burrows, Baertschi and Bo Horvat scored eight points, with each scoring a goal. "I know what happened really affected Sven. I think he might have dedicated that one to him."

"You want to help but you can't," Baertschi said. "You know his family is there for him, but you want to reach out. I know he's a fighter and he's going to get through this. All you can do is pray for him and hope for the best."

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