Irv Kaage, President of IMTS exhibitor Transor Filter, has been a Chicago Blackhawks season ticketholder for 5 years. While he recognized the woman who had the seats behind him, often attending games with her family, they'd never really gotten to know each other. That was about to change, and quickly.
During the second period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals, an errant shot sent the puck careening over the glass and into the stands, where it hit Dr. Patricia Higgins, an urgent care physician from Burr Ridge, IL. She suffered a gash from the bridge of her nose to above her right eye and required surgery and a number of stitches. Thankfully, she is expected to make a full recovery, although she still has no sense of smell or taste and suffers from vision issues.
Kaage said he had just briefly glanced away from the ice when the incident happened, and didn't know anyone had gotten hurt. However, the puck happened to land right at his feet - where he picked it up, thinking he'd just grabbed a really great game souvenir. Kaage's son, though, mentioned that he thought the woman sitting behind them might have gotten hurt. Kaage found out from United Center staff that she'd been taken to a local hospital for surgery. "I love to collect sports memorabilia, and I have all kinds of great things - even old stadium seats. But, I knew she had earned this puck." That's when he set out to find out who she was, and how he could get it back to her.
While the United Center staff couldn't give him any information about Higgins' identity, Kaage managed to find her through a Chicago Sun-Times reporter, Mitch Dudek, who wrote an article about her injury. After lots of back and forth, and some coverage from the local media, they finally found a time to meet - at the CBS Chicago studios, where the two were guests for the evening newscasts on July 10.
Kaage's wife, Laurel, made a nice box for presenting the puck to Higgins, which included a ticket stub from the game - pinned into place with Laurel's own lucky Blackhawks earrings.