The past few weeks have been a whirlwind for Penn State forward David Glen, on and off the ice.
The sophomore scored a goal in the Nittany Lions' 4-0 upset of 10th-ranked Michigan on Feb. 8, marking their first conference victory of the inaugural Big Ten hockey season. But what made the weekend series against the Wolverines even more memorable was Glen's return to action after a selfless act that forced him to miss a few games.
After being identified as a match by a national marrow donation program, Glen underwent a peripheral blood stem cell procedure to help a woman battling cancer. Other than the woman's age, Glen didn't know the identity of the patient needing the transplant. However, he did know the procedure would keep him off the ice for at least a few games.
The choice was clear.
PSU forward David Glen sat out a few games but helped save a life by undergoing a peripheral blood stem cell procedure to help a woman battling cancer. (Photo: Penn State Athletic Communications)
"It was just missing a couple of games to save someone's life," Glen told NHL.com. "It's pretty easy if you take a step back and look at it that way. I felt like there was no other option. It was the right thing to do."
In November 2012, Glen and his teammates took part in the "Match4Kim" drive to support the mother of Drew Roper, a fellow student-athlete. According to "Be the Match," the program that facilitated the event, approximately one in every 540 people tested will be a match and donate bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells. Given the improbable odds, Glen said he didn't anticipate being eligible.
His results were kept on file, and he was contacted by the program's registry in the spring of 2013. After a few follow-up tests, he was identified as an eligible donor in December. The following month, he set up a meeting with Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky.
"We were extremely happy for him and proud of how he was handling [the situation]," Gadowsky said. "He did a lot of research as to what this would do to his body. He told me that he'd have to miss three or four games, but that's a very small price to pay for the ability to give someone a second chance at life. [His decision] was completely consistent with his personality."
With backing from the coaching staff and the Penn State athletic department, the Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, native revealed the news to his teammates and was greeted by cheers. Gadowsky said he was not surprised to see his team embrace Glen, an alternate captain who was voted most valuable player by his teammates as a freshman.
In the ensuing days, word spread about the five-day donation process Glen was undergoing, and the community rallied around him. Gadowsky said Glen didn't want recognition for his decision, but he got his fair share on social media and at Penn State's next home game on Jan. 25. Glen wasn't in the lineup, but he was the center of attention.
A sign against the glass in the student section read "David Glen: The Ultimate Assist," and the fans chanted his name. His teammates responded with a spirited effort in front of a sellout crowd at Pegula Ice Arena, though they lost 3-2 to second-ranked Boston College.
Glen also missed a two-game road series against Ohio State but was cleared to return for the opener of a two-game series against Michigan on Feb. 7. Gadowsky put him in the starting lineup and he received a standing ovation before the game.
"I had no idea [the ovation] was coming," Glen said. "It was a really special moment for me and a classy move by everyone in the building and the Michigan team as well. Everyone has really been beyond supportive. Feeling support the whole way through made things a lot easier."
After losing the front end of the Michigan series, Glen and Penn State responded the following day with their shutout victory, which snapped a nine-game losing streak and marked the first win against a top-10 opponent in the program’s two-year history in Division I. Glen said his team thrived off the electric atmosphere and called the win "a special moment" for Penn State hockey.
Gadowsky said the win was especially sweet because it coincided with Glen's return.
"To play Michigan, who has won more national championships than any other university in college hockey, at home and win, I'm just so happy that David was on the ice and scored such a huge goal for us," Gadowsky said. "He's such a heart-and-soul guy and means so much to the team and the program that it just wouldn't have felt right if he wasn't here."
Glen said he's feeling great and is glad to be back on the ice. He’s been humbled by the outpouring of support, encourages other people to get tested, and said he would consider going through the donation process again.
"It was a pretty rewarding experience for me," Glen said. "It's not often that you get the opportunity, so I had to jump at it and make the most of it. I'm really honored and privileged to have been a part of this."
For more information on "Be The Match," visit BeTheMatch.org.