It Begins and Ends With Hockey

A huge hockey fan who grew up on the border of Canada and occasionally played pond hockey for fun as a kid, I LOVE an outdoor hockey game and I look forward to the Winter Classic every year. This year did not disappoint. Nats Park was transformed into a great outdoor rink facility, the weather was perfect, my seats were amazing and the final outcome ideal (CAPS beat the Blackhawks 3-2). Hockey utopia! I’m hoping the rest of the season will lead the CAPS to the playoffs. Go C-A-P-S!

My Winter Classic Attendance Timeline:

  • 2008: The first Winter Classic game at Ralph Wilson Stadium between the Sabres and Penguins in my hometown of Buffalo. Unfortunately, the Penguins won in a shootout 2-1.
  • 2011: The fourth WC game at Heinz Field between the Penguins and CAPS in Pittsburgh. The CAPS won 3-1. In a strange way the CAPS beating the Penguins felt like vindication for 2008.
  • 2015: The eighth WC game at Nats Park between the CAPS and Blackhawks in Washington, DC. The CAPS won 3-2.

Ladies Night

My CAPS fanatic friend Christy and I went to Hockey ‘n Heels, a guaranteed fun annual event hosted by the CAPS for female fans at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. The format each year is basically the same, but the players who attend and the information shared during the sessions changes.

Highlights from this year’s event included:

  • On-ice demonstration with Goalie Justin Peters (35) and an opportunity to catch and shoot pucks with CAPS alumni
  • Meeting and posing with Tom Wilson (43) and trying on an official Winter Classic jersey
  • Strength and conditioning demo and Q&A in the players’ fitness center with Mark Nemish, strength & conditioning coach for the team; Robert Wood, head chef of Eco Caters, who provides healthy meals to the CAPS; and basic exercise drills with Michael Latta (46)
  • Equipment session in the CAPS locker room with Brock Myles, head equipment manager — he shared super cool background information about what it takes to dress each player, ordering of equipment/brands specific to each player, tailoring uniforms and more!
  • Q&A with Barry Trotz, head coach, who discussed his style of coaching and hopes for the team

Teamwork

One of the many awesome things about the Washington Capitals is that they’re very involved in giving back to the community – from playground builds to rink renovations. At least once a year they do a service project in which they include CAPS fans in the process. I’ve been participating as a volunteer team leader for the past three years and I look forward to it every year. Liz, executive director for the MSE Foundation, does a phenomenal job organizing the projects.

This year some of the CAPS’ “better halves”; Red Rockers and Slapshot came out to lend us a hand. Our mission was to help spruce up the Fort Dupont Ice Arena, which included painting the locker rooms, cleaning helmets, skates and other equipment, washing the rink windows, replacing nets on the hockey goals, and more. I helped paint the inside of the arena last year and met some amazing kids from the neighborhood who use the rink – many of whom had grown and returned to help out this year. Very inspiring. Liz shared a personal story with everyone about how Fort Dupont was special to her because it’s the ice rink where she grew up skating. Laich (#21) and Ward (#42) stopped by, signed autographs, and posed for photos with the kids and volunteers. Can’t wait until next time…