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TD Bank Hometown Hero

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
The morning of February 12 started off like any other morning for Joe Lozito. He started his regular commute from Philadelphia to Manhattan via train. All was normal. Once he had arrived at Penn Station in New York, he learned that his regular subway train, the 1 train, was not operating due to maintenance.

The Queens, Long Island native decided to go with the flow of the ever-changing New York City transit and opted to take the 3 Train to get him closer to his final destination. But no one could have predicted what was to come and that one commuter’s train change would ultimately alter the lives of countless innocent bystanders, also on their way to work that day.

As Lozito boarded the subway car, he was joined by two New York City police officers. Accordingly, his awareness heightened and Lozito began looking around. Naturally, his instincts immediately alerted him to another passenger.

It was a good thing Lozito was cautiously watching. Soon after, the shady man who had begun to cause a ruckus came at him with an eight-inch Ginsu knife and told him he was going to die.

“I fought for my life and I fought to be with my family,” Lozito said. “I have two young boys and a wife. I do my commute for them. I didn’t want them to have their father and husband die on a train like that. If it means I’m a survivor, if it means I’m a fighter, that’s for other people to decide.”

Fighting for his life, Lozito tackled the man at the waste, held him down on the floor of the subway car and squeezed his wrist until the suspect let go of the knife. Only later did Lozito learn that he had apprehended a suspect who had murdered four people and seriously injured four others in the previous 28 hours.

While Lozito was one of the lucky ones, he still has more than his share of battle scars that serve as every day reminders of the horror he was confronted with.

“As far as the scars go, I guess they mean I’m a survivor,” Lozito said. “I do believe there was a reason I was on the train. It wasn’t the train I normally take. A higher power put me there for a reason and that same higher power let me live. I have never seen as much blood as I saw that day.”

Lozito’s heroics earned him the honor of being named the TD Bank Hometown Hero for Thursday, March 31, when the Islanders took on the Rangers for a 6-2 win. The TD Bank Hometown Hero is a joint initiative between the New York Islanders and “America’s Most Convenient Bank,” to honor locals who go above and beyond to display exemplary courage.

One of the Islanders own tough guys, Trevor Gillies, has become extremely close with Lozito this season and even invited him into his home on one occasion.

“He was on the train and he got attacked,” Gillies said. “The guy threatened to kill him and he took him down. He contained the guy’s knife and he got all scarred up in the process. So he is a hero.”

Gillies continued, “That’s a phenomenal thing. A lot of people may have folded or cracked under pressure, but he did what he had to do to survive. He took down someone who killed four people in one day. It’s a phenomenal story. Those scars are minor, but Joe (Lozito) has a big heart and that’s why he did what he did. He stopped that man from killing more people.”

While Gillies acknowledged Lozito is just one of those all-around nice guys, he also said how big of a fan the TD Bank Hometown Hero actually is.

“He’s been a huge Islanders fan his whole life,” Gillies said. “He grew up here. He kind of got out of the game for a little while, with some of the rule changes and how it got a little softer, but now he’s back. He’s kind of an old school guy like myself, who believes in the physical aspect of the game.”

I think when you’re a kid and you’re playing hockey in the street, you always pretend that you’re the guy who scored the Bob Nystrom Stanley Cup goal, you’re the one who scored the overtime goal or you’re the guy who beat up a Ranger at center ice. - Joe Lozito
Gillies continued, “He really enjoys the fighting and the guys that are the hard workers and maybe aren’t as skilled. That’s kind of the way Joe (Lozito) is. He just has passion for guys on that side of the game and loves guys like Matt Martin, Micheal Haley, myself and Zenon Konopka. Those are his favorite players, even though there are guys with a lot more talent in the room. Those are the type of players he identifies with and likes. He’s a real nice guy.”

Lozito made sure to mention that he’s been an Islanders fan his entire life, spending the first 29 years of his life living in Queens.

“I think when you’re a kid and you’re playing hockey in the street, you always pretend that you’re the guy who scored the Bob Nystrom Stanley Cup goal, you’re the one who scored the overtime goal or you’re the guy who beat up a Ranger at center ice,” Lozito said. “I think as an Islanders fan, especially as a kid, you always dreamed about being on the Nassau Coliseum ice or seeing your name on the scoreboard, anything to do with the Islanders, so this was really an honor that is hard to put into words.”

TD Bank and the New York Islanders honor six Hometown Heroes over the course of the 2010-11 season. Each honoree receives tickets for their immediate family and friends, in addition to being recognized in the Coliseum during an Islanders game.

Having that recognition meant a lot to Lozito.

“It was very emotional for me,” Lozito said. “It’s something that I thank the Islanders and I thank TD Bank for because it’s something that hits home. It will be an honor to have my name somewhere as a small footnote in Islanders history. It meant a lot to me and that I was able to share that moment with my children, my family and friends. I really thank the organization for acknowledging me.”
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