Wayward puck leaves legislator Seekins in stitches

Posted: Sunday, January 26, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- New state Sen. Ralph Seekins looks a little roughed up right now, but not because of anything that happened to him during his first week in the Legislature.

Seekins, a hockey fan, flew home for the weekend and took in a University of Alaska Fairbanks hockey game Friday night. He was talking to a friend when a stray puck slammed into his head, opening two cuts that were close with more than 50 stitches.

UAF was leading Western Michigan 3-1 when Seekins turned to say something to his friend, Fairbanks attorney Lynn Levengood. His head wasn't entirely in the game.

''I was having a good time,'' Seekins said. ''I was talking to Lynn and I turned to look over at him for a second. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the puck about 6 to 8 inches before it hit my face.''

Seekins said he was stunned for a few moments after the puck slapped his forehead. Levengood gave him a handkerchief to put over the cuts.

He went to a side room at the Carlson Center and Dr. Cary Keller applied about 50 to 60 stitches on the two cuts the puck made on Seekins' forehead and near a corner of an eye.

''He did a masterful job. They are really fine stitches, which is why there are so many of them,'' Seekins said.

He thinks the puck may have bounced off a seat and hit him twice, but he's not sure.

''It's just one of those things. There was a little girl behind me and people said if I hadn't been hit by the puck she would have. I'd rather have it hit me than a little girl like that,'' he said. ''It's one of the risks you take, but it's an exciting game.''

Seekins was six rows up for Friday's game. When he goes to games with his grandchildren, Seekins said, he sits down lower to avoid flying pucks.

Seekins said he'll have a scar, but not a ''gaping hole.''

''I've got a little headache and a little soreness, but it's just like any other cut. It hit me in a good spot, the head. It can't do much damage there,'' Seekins joked.

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