RALEIGH, N.C. — After his Make-A-Wish moment meeting the Lightning in mid November, Jake Warner set a goal.
The next time the Lightning played the Hurricanes in Raleigh, where Warner, 17, lives, he would be able to walk into PNC Arena and see the game.
He faced a difficult task. Warner had his left leg amputated below the knee on Thanksgiving in an attempt to rid himself of a rare cancer called pseudomyogenic hemangioendothelioma.
But Sunday, when the Lightning played the Hurricanes, Warner was there, with the help of a prosthetic and a cane, wearing a Steven Stamkos jersey. With followup scans revealing that he is cancer-free, Warner got to see his first NHL game since his November visit to Tampa.
"Needless to say, he has had this date circled on his calendar for a long time," said Jake's father, Craig.
Jake grew up playing lacrosse and hockey — he was a left wing and a center — before his diagnosis last year. During a family vacation, Jake got hooked up with the Lightning for the November meet-and-greet — which he dubbed a "dream come true" — after the family reached out to former Hurricanes and current Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, who relayed the message to Lightning GM Steve Yzerman.
Craig said that though the family has Hurricanes season tickets, it "cannot begin to tell you how much it means to me what the Lightning organization has done for Jake." Jake planned to meet with Yzerman and players against after Sunday's game.
Jake is even having a customized prosthetic made with the Lightning logo, though it wasn't ready for Sunday.
"This story truly does have a happy ending," Craig said.