Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Hockey n Heels 2016

Last night I attended my 5th Caps Hockey n Heels event. Once again, my friends Kristin and Catherine attended with me.

Read about the previous years here: Dec 2014, Nov 2013, Feb 2013, and Jan 2012.

We were at the Caps practice facility, Kettler, from 5:30-9:30 pm. Throughout the evening, food and beverages were provided by EcoCaters, the same group that provides the in-house food for the Caps team. One of the team chefs was there to help serve and answer questions.

As usual, the on-ice portion of events was held first. Our first station was shooting the puck. Our instructor was Caps alum Paul Mulvey (he played with the team from 1978-81). Now that we've done this a few times, we don't need as much instruction. I can definitely get the puck into the net, but I still have no clue how the players are able to elevate it.

Next up was a visit to the Caps locker room. I never get tired of seeing all of their equipment up close. We were able to mill around and look at everything, while we waited for our turn in a photo booth with recent defensive call-up Aaron Ness.

Here's our photo booth keepsake. Though Ness looks like a teenager, the internet assures me he is 25. I feel old whenever I'm around these players, as many of them are closer in age to my children than they are to me...

On our way out of the locker room, we spied coach Trotz. He was so gracious and agreed to photographs with anyone who wanted them!

After the locker room, we had a few minutes to wait before our turn at broomball. So we goofed around near the press area.

For the broomball, they divided us into 2 groups. Half were with Caps forward Stanislav Galiev.

And we were with forward Evgeny Kuznetsov, who is the nicest guy.

As far as I can tell, broomball doesn't have any rules, but that didn't stop Kuzy from being super competitive. Fortunately for me, none of my photos captured my epic wipeout while lunging for the ball. Running around the ice while chasing a ball is ridiculously difficult.

Apparently, the event staff decided to relax their rules about player photos and autographs. Lucky for us!

Up next, we got to practice our goalie skills with back-up goalie Phillip Grubauer. He seemed to have a great time teaching everyone how to hold the goalie glove and blocker. I have the ultimate respect for all of these athletes, but particularly the goalies. The glove and blocker are surprisingly heavy and that is only the beginning of all of the padding and equipment the goalies have to wear. It is very awkward to hold your hands/arms in different positions, and we weren't even holding a stick!

Shooting the (foam) pucks at us was Caps alum Sylvain Cote, whom I remember playing for the Caps for most of the 90s.

Once the on-ice portion of the events concluded, we headed upstairs for a Q&A with Caps head coach Barry Trotz. Just like last year, this was very entertaining and informative.

He talked about his coaching philosophy and his use of slogans like "Stick to the Script", the coaches challenge, 3-on-3 overtime, his relationship with Alex Ovechkin, what he thinks of new acquisition Mike Richards ("high hockey IQ"), how he met goalie coach Mitch Korn (comparing the two of them to Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets), why he doesn't typically yell at the referees after a penalty call, and that he is considered the "dad" in the locker room (usually the last to know what the players are laughing at).

Then we headed over to a Q&A with the CSN broadcast team of Joe Beninati (Joe B), Courtney Laughlin, and Craig Loughlin (Locker). This was where we had the most laughs of the night. From talking about how they prepare for games, to their favorite hockey moments, to broadcaster fashion, it was tremendously entertaining. If you are not following these 3 on Twitter yet, get on it. They are hilarious.

We ended the night with a quick chat about officiating. Two current Caps employees, who previously officiated in juniors and minor professional hockey, answered questions about on-ice officials. We learned that on-ice officials have their own training camp each season and that they are strenuously reviewed after each game to ensure that they are consistently enforcing the rules. They talked a lot about the human element of the game and the relationships that the officials have with the coaches and players (they talk and joke around a lot, evidently).

It was once again a fun night and we really can't thank the Caps enough for allowing us to learn about and experience the sport we all love so much. It is so exciting to spend time with more than 200 women (covering every age and background) who are as passionate about hockey as we are.

This year's event got a lot of coverage online, so I'll try to link to everything here. If I missed something, please tweet me @martina09 or leave a comment below.
Please do not repost any of the published photos without permission or attribution. Thanks for reading!

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