Daniel Lehman’s three daughters thought they were attending a Pittsburgh Penguins game to be recognized with other military families who sacrifice so much. Little did they know that after 11 months of not seeing their father,  a sergeant in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, they would be surprised by his return from Afghanistan and Kuwait.

On Nov. 19, Lehman had an emotional reunion with daughters Lauralyn, 12, Rayanne, 8, and Janelle, 6, that was better than any Penguins win.

Along with his wife, Mary, Lehman coordinated the surprise months ahead of his return and, with the Penguins’ help, made it a memory that will last a lifetime.

During a television timeout in the first period, the girls thought they were going to be playing a game on the stadium’s video board with the in-arena host. Then, a “Welcome Home, Dad!” message flashed on the screen and Lehman, in full uniform, emerged and embraced his family.



“You can’t ask for a better moment,” Lehman told NHL.com. “It was something that the wife and I were talking about throughout the tour. I mentioned it to her and said, ‘We might as well ask (the Pens). The worst they can do is say no and then it’s not that big of a deal.’ So then she sent the email. I saw a lot of the responses back and it started snowballing. It started rolling and getting more elaborate. Everything started falling into place.”

Hockey has been the thing that’s connected the family, even when Lehman is away on deployment. But, beyond that, it has bestowed a life lesson that can be carried forward in difficult times.

“…They’re [His daughters] learning that no matter whether you have anger or happiness, you’ve got to find an outlet and put it somewhere.”

It was Lehman’s daughters’ first time ever attending a professional hockey game. It’s safe to say that in the future, there won’t be another one that can compare.