Here I present to you: Ariane's Hockey N Heels Recap
On Wednesday, November 9, 2011, my mom, Gina, and I went to Hockey N Heels at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Hockey N Heels is run by the Scarlet Caps, which is a club for women to better understand the ins and outs of hockey and to meet other female Caps fans. Hockey 'n Heels includes on-ice demonstrations with Caps players and alumni, a session led by Strength and Conditioning Coach Mark Nemish, Hockey Q & A with Alan May and a film session with Head Coach Bruce Boudreau. The players scheduled to appear included Nicklas Backstrom, Troy Brouwer, Mathieu Perreault and Dennis Wideman, but Karl Alzner ended up replacing Wideman. So I’m sure you all want to know how it was!!!!
My mom and I left the house around 4:45 to head over to Kettler for the 5:30 check-in time. When we got to Kettler there were already a ton of people in line. My mom and I checked-in, got our wristbands for our designated group, our tickets for the November 21 game against the Coyotes, and since we had time to spare, we checked out the team store. As we walked around the store, half of which I already own, my mom finally decided on a red, navy blue women’s sweatshirt with the Caps logo on it and a Caps ear warmer headband. I got a Mike Green and an Alex Semin picture to get autographed at the next practice I go to. After we left the team store we walked into the ice rink and sat in the bleachers according to our colored wristbands. Ours were blue. A little bit before 6:00, Chilli Amar, from Mix 107.3, gave us a run down of how the evening was going to go. After that two of the four groups went on the Capitals Ice, which is where the Caps practice, the other two groups went over to the Arlington Ice, which is the public skating rink while the Caps are practicing.
Once we got on the ice and tried not to fall, we were told to get our picture taken the Nicklas Backstrom, other wise known as Nicky B from here on out. We were getting our picture taken where the media stands while practice is going on and where Bruce and players do interviews. So my mom and I get in line, and this woman told us we were going to get to wear his gloves when we got our picture taken with him. Kinda cool right? Well it was!! The gloves look so big and heavy, when actually, they are really light weight. As I walked up to Nicky B, he said “Hi, how are you?” and I said “I’m good, how are you?” Totally star stuck, not gonna lie!!! Once I got my picture taken with Nicky B, it was my moms turn, to which I found out afterwards that she asked him if she could punch him in the face with the gloves, and he said that he wasn’t prepared for that. Way to go mom!
After we got out pictures taken we got back on the ice and gently walked/glided over to Karl Alzner to learn how to pass. We stood in line depending on if you were left or right handed. When it was my turn to pass with Karl, I started to freak out because I knew I was going to be terrible and was afraid he’d laugh at me. He didn’t!! I actually did fairly well. I didn’t hit anyone and managed to hit the same puck back and forth with Karl several times. I think he was impressed!! Then it was my moms turn to pass with Karl. Not sure what kind of conversation they had, as I was taking pictures!! But she claims he told her she was good, but who knows with my mom.
|Passing with Karl Alzer|
Next on the agenda was shooting with Troy Brouwer and Alan May. My mom and I first got in Alan May’s line because she was a fan of him when he played for the Caps back in the day. I was more interested in Troy Brouwer, but luckily we had time for both. The first two pucks I shot I completely missed the net. It’s a lot harder then it looks like it would be. The next two shots made it in the net. Would have been the five-hole had Neuvy or Vokoun been in net!! Or at least I like to think that! I then stood in line for Troy Brouwer, mainly to give him crap for wearing an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball hat!! So when I get up there, he could tell I was left handed, holding a right handed stick. I told him it didn’t matter, and that I’d shoot right handed. Then I said to him “ What’s up with the Diamondbacks hat? You should be wearing a Nats hat.” He then explained that every summer him and his buddies go somewhere and see a baseball game, and this year they went to Arizona. Doesn’t mean it’s ok, but I told him I’d let it slide and that I’d bring him a Nats hat the next time I was at Kettler for practice. He laughed and said ok. We’ll see if he remembers. I won’t hold my breath!!
|Harassing Troy Brouwer|
After passing with Karl Alzner and shooting with Alan May and Troy Brouwer, the two groups on the Caps ice switched with the two groups on the Arlington Ice. Next we worked on slap shots with Mathieu Perreault, now known as Matty P. I then realized that he was wearing a Boston Red Sox baseball hat. What is it with these Canadians not supporting their fellow DC athlete’s teams??? Geez!!!! Needless to say, I gave him grief too about his hat choice! Back to the hockey part!! When it was my turn to shoot slap shots, I told him I was left-handed and he handed me the stick he was holding. Once he handed it to me, I asked him if it was his stick. He got a big smile on his face and said that yes it was, and that it was his “magic stick.” So I took a couple slap shots and it was a lot like hitting a golf ball. The final on-ice session was taking face-offs, with face-offs coach, Bob Woods. Not only did you take the face off, but Bob also told you where certain players would be on the ice to try to get you to get the puck to whoever might be there. For example, Bob told me that Ovi would be behind me so I should try to get the puck either behind me or through his legs. I won two out of three face-offs against my mom.
|Magic Stick Matty P|
|Face-Offs with Bob Woods|
Once all the on-ice sessions were over everyone went upstairs and enjoyed some snacks and drinks. There was pasta salad, chips, turkey wraps, ham wraps, chicken wraps, cookies for dessert, and beer, wine and soda to drink. After we were done eating, my group went to the film session with Coach Bruce Boudreau. He went over film from the previous days loss to the Dallas Stars, as well as film from the Stars playing other teams to illustrate how they prepare for games and how he “scouts” teams before the Caps play them. The first clips we watched were about face-offs. Bruce explained how Dallas plays when they win a face-off and how they play when they lose a face-off, so the Caps players know who to cover and how to go about trying to get the puck out of their zone and down into their offensive zone. Next Bruce showed us the “battles” that several Caps players lost during Tuesday’s game. I never understood what that meant until Bruce showed up film and explained it. When you’re watching a game and there are several players from both teams against the boards fighting to get the puck out, that is the “battle” that Bruce was talking about. We then watched a couple more “battle” clips and then Bruce opened it up for questions. The first question asked was at what point does he (Bruce) decide to pull the starting goalie and put the back-up goalie in. Bruce said that it’s not that the starting goalie is playing bad, it might be that the goalie allowed goals that he could normally stop. Bruce said that he will wait until a period is over before pulling a goalie so he has a chance to explain to the team as well as the goalie why he is making the switch. The next question asked was probably the worst question you could possibly ask the head coach of the Washington Capitals. Let me first start off by saying she prefaced the question by saying this: “I know you’ve probably been asked this question a lot by the media.” So my first reaction is she is going to ask about “Ovechgate,” when Bruce “benched” Ovi during the last second of regulation during the Ducks game. But that’s not where she went. So then she says “What’s up with Schultz?” To which Bruce said, what about Schultz? And this woman then proceeded to go on a tangent about why he’s still on the team, and that he’s a rock and it basically worthless to the team. Bruce looked at her and said he’d never talk negatively about any of his players, and then said next question please. I couldn’t believe that lady had the audacity to ask Bruce a question like that. Come on lady, have some class!! The next question was in refer to concussion protocol, but Bruce said he left that up to the trainers, then went into the long process Jay Beagle has been going through after his fight with Arron Asham during the Pittsburgh game in October. Beagle had to go three days without a headache before he could do any sort of working out. Once he went three days without a headache, he rode the stationary bike for three minutes, then had to wait another three days headache free before he could ride the bike for 10 min. If he skates on Monday, he has to take Tuesday off. So there is a lot that goes into treating a concussion that most people might not be aware of. Finally, my mom asked Bruce when he decides to switch shifts during a game, and Bruce said it all depends on how many lines the other team has, weather it be 3 lines or 4, and how many minutes each of the other teams lines are on the ice. If the other team has their top line out on the ice for a long period of time, he’s not going to keep his top line out there because the other team is trying to tire them out.
After the film session with Bruce, we went to Strength and Conditioning with the strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish. He talked about the workout plans that that guys have during the session, then had us do some of the exercises that the guys do during a typical work out. Don’t ask me the names of the exercises because I don’t remember!!! It was four stations of different exercises and stretches. That’s all I got!! We then learned that the team works out at Verizon Center for roughly 20 minutes after EVERY home game. Depending on how long they played, their work out might be more or less intense. They share the weight room at Verizon Center with the Wizards, which we all know are currently in a lockout. So the Caps get the weight room to themselves for the time being. Mark Nemish also told us that the players get tested for body fat once a month and that during the season Mark tries to maintain the body weight the guys already have. He doesn’t want them losing or gaining any weight. Interesting right? I thought so too!!
Finally, we ended the evening with Alan May and John Walton, the new Caps radio broadcaster. We learned what goes into preparing for the pre-game and post game shows on Comcast as well as on the radio. We’ll start with Alan May and the TV side of things. He meets with his entire team the day before a game and they script everything. From what player they are going to show on the ice warming up, to who they want to talk to in between periods. Alan said that he’ll talk to Caps PR about who they want to interview between periods and they will usually get who he wants, but if for some reason that person can’t do the interview, they will throw in a rookie. So if you ever see Cody Eakin getting interviewed between periods, it’s probably because who they really wanted to interview had something else going on, like equipment issue or maybe even a bathroom break! As Alan May said, when in doubt, throw in a rookie!
There you have it ladies and gents! If any of you are interested in Hockey N Heels, you must be a member of Scarlet Caps, (and the minute the tickets go on sale BUY THEM...obviously only a little bitter). There is a another Hockey N Heels event coming up in the winter, where you can bet Ariane, Gina and I will be. Lets just hope no more requests to punch Caps players in the face...
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