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The players shuffle and fight over the puck after the referee drops it. The University of Georgia club hockey team hosted the South Carolina Gamecocks to lose by a score of 6-4 on Nov. 22, 2019, in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/ Kathryn Skeean, kskeean@randb.com)

Assistant coach and equipment manager for the Georgia club ice hockey team, Steve Beneke, was involved in an accident while working as a referee at a hockey game on Feb. 13. Beneke is now in serious condition in the intensive care unit at Gwinnett Medical Center.

Beneke attempted to break up a fight during the third period of an adult hockey game. In the process, he was struck in the chin by one of the players. Beneke immediately fell backwards, and his head collided with the ice.

Benke was rushed to the Gwinnett Medical Center Emergency where a CT scan revealed brain bleeding. He is on a ventilator in the intensive care unit.

Ice Dawgs head coach Rick Emmett described Beneke as a key component of the team and shared the impact he has had on the Georgia and hockey communities.

“He has been with the program for over 20 years as a volunteer,” Emmett said. “He’s a longstanding pillar of the organization.”

Donations to help Beneke cover the medical costs can be made through a GoFundMe that has been set up, and more than $44,000 has already been raised of the $50,000 goal.

“He’s well-known through the hockey circles and is very well thought of,” Emmett said.

Emmett visited Beneke and updated on his current condition.

“He is beginning to wean off the ventilator, and I think he will have about another week in the hospital,” Emmett said. “Everyone is optimistic about a solid recovery.”

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