16-year-old Valley hockey player cheats death

PHOENIX - A 16-year-old Valley hockey player cheated death and is speaking out for the first time since the incident.

It was the Phoenix Coyotes which sparked an interest in hockey for Nick.

"I always wanted to get on the ice. I learned to skate when I was like 2," Vogel tells ABC15.

For the past 12 years, hockey has been his life. Then, eight months ago, the unthinkable happened. It was a freak accident while Nick played an away game in California.

"When it first happened, I knew I'd been hit," Nick says.

"We got several phone calls," Nick's mom, Carol Vogel, recalls.

"His skate bucked up and just caught my neck and kind of ripped the skin open," Nick explains.

"There was a team of 12 surgeons waiting when they got there, so it was pretty bad," Carol says.

"I actually turned my neck and my neck just came open and blood just started squirting out," Nick says.

Nick lost two pints of blood that day when a hockey skate sliced his throat, cutting his jugular vein, which carries blood from the head to the heart.

"They said, you were close," Nick says.

"He came very close to dying," Carol says.

After months of recovery and rehabilitation, Nick hopes his injury will serve as a reason for other players to play it safe by wearing a neck guard.

"It may look goofy or feel uncomfortable, but it will definitely feel more comfortable than a skate blade going into your neck," Nick says.

Now, he's back on the ice with a vengeance, a neck guard and a story to tell.

"I look at it and I think that's cool. I cheated death," Nick says.

He's being honored by Phoenix Children's Hospital as this week's "Comeback Student Athlete of the Week."

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