By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Minnesota father says he owes his life to his friends after his heart stopped during a pick-up hockey game.

READ MORE: Undefeated Gophers Getting Along Just Fine Under Ben Johnson

In September, 57-year-old Scott Rodriguez of Roseville collapsed and stopped breathing while playing hockey at the Richfield Ice Arena.

But fortunately, he was not alone.

“I didn’t think about it much, I just did it,” said Rodriguez’s long-time friend Bob Mueller.

Mueller was playing goalie that night and he suddenly went from saving pucks to trying to save his friend’s life.

“As soon as he stopped breathing, I flipped him over and started doing chest compressions just kind of on instinct. I’d seen it done before,” he said.

And like a well-organized team, everyone went to work. Someone grabbed an AED, while others called 911.

READ MORE: Vikings Leaning Hard On Justin Jefferson In Quest To Save Season

“It just rolled. But it was just surreal how it was happening. It was crazy,” said Curt Rykel, a friend of Rodriguez’s.

It was the AED, that one of them had just learned to use that week that saved Rodriguez.

Paramedics also arrived and played a role, and on Tuesday night all of them were honored at city hall.

As a thank you, Rodriguez gave his friends a hockey puck with their organization’s name on it. But the greatest gift of all is what his friends gave him.

“Tears, we just cried. What do you do? I would say words aren’t enough,” Rodriguez said.

He said one of his arteries was completely blocked.

Doctors installed a pacemaker, and Rodriguez also had bypass surgery.

MORE NEWS: Source: Cheryl Reeve To Be Next US Women's Basketball Team Coach

He should be able to start skating again in the spring. Rodriguez says he plans on learning CPR so he can pay it forward.

John Lauritsen