David Sachar was at the hockey rink hanging out a year ago when he heard an adult player was down on the ice with a cut.
Suddenly, Sachar’s relaxed state vanished and his doctor mode switched on.
Sachar made his way onto the ice where a guy without a face shield on his helmet had taken a puck between the eyes. Sachar retrieved a suture kit from his car and went to work.
“We sewed up his face in the locker room and he went back out and played overtime,” Sachar said. “He’s legend.”
That handiwork in such a pinch even surprised the doctor himself.
“His scar looks better than a plastic surgeon would have done, I’ll tell you that,” Sachar joked. “He looks great. I tease him every time I see him. I say, ‘Your face looks good.’”
Sachar, who is a gastroenterologist at the Carolina Medical Center in Charlotte, has put his medical degree to good use at the rink. But Sachar isn’t just a doctor; he’s a hockey player.
The 47-year-old Sachar plays for the Hawks in the C2 League at the Pineville Ice House in Pineville, North Carolina.
Four years ago, when his wife, Caryn, was teaching the couple’s two daughters how to skate, Sachar wanted to learn to skate as well. He’d always been a big hockey fan, but had never played the game. Now, his passion for the sport is unparalleled.
Growing up just outside of New Haven, Connecticut, Sachar didn’t skate as a youngster.
“I really regret not learning it as a kid,” Sachar said. “That’s my biggest regret.”
While at Union College from 1988-92, Sachar called men’s hockey games for the campus radio station. In Sachar’s senior season, the hockey team moved to the Division I level. That increased the buzz at the small New York school.
Sachar went to the School of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland, and had to put in his required time in the Army. He served two six-month tours overseas, getting stationed in 2005 in Afghanistan as a battalion surgeon for the 82nd Airborne. Three years later, Sachar went to Iraq to support a major base.
As a general medicine doctor on his tours of duty, Sachar certainly experienced more varied scenarios — and greater trauma — than his regular day job as a gastroenterologist back in the United States.
“Over there I did stuff I would never normally do like sew people up,” Sachar said. “I helped out in surgery. I did all that stuff.”
Sachar got out of the Army as a lieutenant colonel in 2010 after 17 years of service. His time in the military is something he believes correlates with the team concept of hockey.
“Helping out the guys that you’re with and you form that bond when you’re overseas with someone sitting in the middle of Afghanistan waiting to get mortared,” Sachar said. “It’s the same type of camaraderie, I think that’s why I like [hockey].”
Sachar logs between 60-80 hours per week in the office, so getting out on the ice with the guys once a week is a big stress reliever. It’s important for Sachar to fit hockey into his regular routine.
“It’s the best thing I do all week, that’s why I do it,” Sachar said. “It’s nice to hang out with all the young guys on the team. I live vicariously through them.”
Sachar has the respect of his teammates, opposing players and referees for what he does on the ice as well as away from it. “Dr. Dave” — as he’s called by his teammates — is the first guy to be contacted with any medical issues on league night.
“When someone gets hurt, the refs know and they call me up first to assess when someone goes down to make sure that it’s OK to continue to play,” Sachar said.
Sachar likes being able to turn off the doctor way of thinking when he’s out on the ice. However, he’s always more than happy to help assist for any situation that arises.
Sachar is also happy to dish out any free medical advice.
“It’s funny because all the guys come to me with their problems during the week, not just hockey,” Sachar said. “I ended up taking on a few of them as patients and I help them get referrals across the city when they have like various ailments, so it’s good. It’s like being their doctor, too.”
On the ice, Sachar is progressing as a player. He started out in the D League, the development league, and played for two years. He moved up two years ago to the C2 League, which is very competitive.
Sachar is his team’s third-line right wing. He’s quick to point out he’s averaging two goals and one assist per season.
“I told my captain he can’t cut me because he’s out three points a year,” Sachar joked.
Sachar’s goal is to keep getting better as a hockey player. Along with playing in league, Sachar enjoys taking part in local skills clinics. In early December, he was involved in a two-day USA Hockey skills clinic at the Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte.
At the medical center where Sachar works, the company used to have a policy where doctors practicing for 10 years could take a two-month, paid sabbatical to conduct research or other activities. It’s too bad for Sachar that policy is no longer in place.
“I would have gone to some hockey clinic across the country and played hockey for two months,” he said.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc
Tag(s): Adult Hockey