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Save of a Lifetime

by Wes Crosby / Pittsburgh Penguins

From left: Forrest Hodges, David Allen, Penguins general manager Ray Shero and Freddie Waine

Pittsburgh has witnessed some great saves throughout the years, from Marc-Andre Fleury’s save at the end of Game 7 in the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals to Frank Pietrangelo’s save on Peter Stastny in Game 6 of the opening round of the 1991 Stanley Cup playoffs.

But all of them pale in comparison to the save two gentlemen made prior to the Penguins’ matchup with the Florida Panthers on Feb. 22.

David Allen, a 66-year-old Penguin fan from Beaver, was making his way to CONSOL Energy Center that day for the very first time when he suffered a heart attack and collapsed outside the arena. Thankfully, Forrest Hodges, a Pittsburgh police officer, and Freddie Waine, an ex-Army medic, were present to perform CPR and save Allen’s life.

“I can’t say enough about (Hodges and Waine),” Allen said. “If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here right now because according to what they said at UPMC, with the situation I was in, only seven percent of people in that situation survive. It was the right time and the right place.”

The Penguins welcomed Allen, Hodges and Waine to CONSOL Energy Center for Saturday night’s regular season finale against the Carolina Hurricanes. The three were seated in section 108 and recognized during a television timeout, but received a surprise well before the puck drop as they dined in the executive dining room at the Lexus Club.

Penguins general manger Ray Shero greeted the gentlemen about an hour and a half before the game and as he walked through the door, Allen proclaimed jokingly, “Oh, I know this guy.”

While Hodges and Waine performed CPR that day, Allen’s treasured Evgeni Malkin jersey was ripped to make way for an airway. So, Shero presented Allen with a signed Malkin jersey while Hodges and Waine received signed Marc-Andre Fleury jerseys to commemorate their unbelievable “save.”

“I got an autographed Evgeni Malkin shirt – my hero,” Allen said. “I’m having a heck of a time.”

Allen has already purchased a new Malkin jersey, but said his signed jersey will go in a display case that already holds an autographed Troy Polamalu jersey in his “man cave.”

The three men have stayed in touch over the past two months and have formed a bond that Hodges described as gaining “an extended family member.”

“It was a combined effort,” Hodges. “Missing one act of anything in that evening, it could have been a different outcome. So, I am so glad to see him up and about and looking so well.

“I’ve thought a lot about him. Standing here, I actually have chills go down my neck just to see him alive and well.”

Hodges was working a traffic light at Centre Avenue and Washington Place when Allen suffered the heart attack. Meanwhile, Waine was taking his son to the game and was walking to the arena when he heard Allen’s friend yell. When he saw Hodges approaching her, Waine rushed to the scene. Hodges asked Waine if he knew what he was doing to which he responded, “Yes, sir.”

Waine opened an airway while Hodges began chest compressions while they called 911 and waited for medics to make their way through game day traffic.

“I’ve done two tours in Iraq and it was the same sort of response,” Waine said. “It was just, do what you have to do. And I’ve heard Officer Hodges say it, we were just lucky to be in the right spot and we were just lucky to come out with the outcome that we got.”

Saturday marked the Penguins’ Fan Appreciation night and the franchise took the opportunity to show appreciation for Allen’s restored health and Hodges’ and Waine’s brave actions.

“I hope I’m here tonight for the first of 17 more victories,” Allen said. “One tonight and 16 in the playoffs and that would be a perfect ending for the year 2013. Starting with these two gentlemen and ending with the Penguins lifting the Stanley Cup.”

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