Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hockey n Heels 11/13/13

This was my third time at a Caps Hockey n Heels event (read about the other events here and here). It was a little more disorganized this year, and I don't think it was as well attended. It was a little more expensive this time, because they included a ticket to an upcoming game. I would estimate that there were about 150 women in attendance. It was still a great time, though, and as always, the interactions with the players and coaching staff were the best part.

Like last time, I attended with friends and fellow die-hard fans Catherine, Kristin, and Janet.

We started our evening by learning how to pass the puck with defenseman Alex Urbom. Since it was my third time at an event like this, I wasn't as nervous when taking part in the on-ice portion, but I still needed some help remembering the proper form. We each got a few minutes to practice passing, which was nice. We didn't feel rushed at all.

After the passing station, we headed over to get our picture taken with defenseman Karl Alzner. Needless to say, there was a lot of talk about his awesome mustache. (And if you haven't donated to the Movember campaign, here's the Caps team page.)

Next, we learned proper face-off technique from coach Blaine Forsythe. I found this to be the most challenging of the stations, but it's fun to try. I am always impressed that the players are able to do this on skates and with full padding.

The last on-ice station was shooting the puck with former Caps player Alan May, defenseman Steve Oleksy, and rookie forward Tom Wilson. Each time I do this, I get better, but I'm still not very confident. I appreciate the time that Oleksy took in helping me. I was able to get the puck into the net each time I shot it, which is definitely an improvement!

After the on-ice portion of the event, we headed upstairs for some light refreshements: drinks, sandwiches, salads, and the cutest little cupcakes.

Then it was time for video coach Brett Leonhardt's demonstration. Like last time, he talked about how he tracks the games on video live during the games. It amazes me that he is able to tag more than 600 events (such as forechecking, face-offs in all three zones, goals scored and against, power plays/penalty kills, etc) in real time as the game is being played. He showed us how he makes video packages to show individual players or the team as a whole, both for in-game and the next day. He also talked a little bit about the team's strategy on the forecheck and during break-outs, but I won't divulge the specifics here. :)

Next, we listened to a Q&A with former goalie and current goalie coach Olie Kolzig, moderated by Alan May. It was a very lively discussion that touched on memories from their playing days; their opinions on fighting, equipment, and rules; and their ideas for changes to the NHL, such as getting rid of the shoot-out or changing the way points are awarded; increasing the size of the ice; and changing the refereeing. They didn't hold anything back and answered everyone's questions. Olie was one of my favorite players, so it was cool to see him.

Our final stop of the evening was the locker room at Kettler. Even though I've been in there before, it's still fun to see all of the equipment set up for the next day's practice. This time, equipment manager Brock Myles talked about the players' helmets and also showed us how he labels every piece of clothing that the players wear. He compared it to labeling kids' stuff for school, ha! And I learned a new word "tuque", which is evidently what Canadians call a knit cap. :)

All in all, it was a great evening. As I've said before, I really appreciate what the Caps organization does for its fans. And the players and coaches are truly class acts; I've never had a bad interaction with any of them.

You can see all of my photos from the evening here. All photos are copyrighted by me and may not be republished without permission. Thanks for reading!