“It was a fun day,” said Nicklas Backstrom. “It’s always fun to see the smiles on their faces.”
GLENN DALE, Md. — Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom, defenseman John Carlson, assistant coach Jim Johnson and mascot Slapshot visited Holy Trinity Episcopal Day School in Glenn Dale, Maryland on Thursday, Feb. 23, to host the Capitals Hockey School at Holy Trinity Episcopal Day School.
Holy Trinity Episcopal Day School is no stranger to the Washington Capitals. Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter’s kids attended the school and if Jim Johnson hadn’t moved to Phoenix many years ago, his kids would have gone there as well.
The players began the session fielding questions from the 230 fifth through eighth grade students in the schools’s gymnasium. Questions ranged from “How much do you make?” to “How did they find you in Sweden?” to “Why do you put tape on your sticks?” Backstrom, Carlson and Johnson then instructed the students on basic hockey skills such as stick-handling, passing and shooting.
Backstrom, Carlson and Johnson lead the skills demonstration and after each new drill, the Caps helped guide the student volunteers through the same drill. To close the clinic, there was a brief scrimmage between Backstrom and the girls on one team and Carlson and the boys on the other. Even though John Carlson said, “I hadn’t played street hockey in a while,” he looked like he had a lot of fun with the kids.
Competition really heated up when three teachers and Slapshot faced the team of Backstrom, Carlson, Johnson and student goalie. The Capitals’ trio prevailed and the student in goal made some great saves.
The hour-long program concluded with the Capitals donating a set of hockey equipment to the school. All students who participated in the session received autographs from Backstrom and Calson, Caps squishy pucks and Hockey 101 booklets. The school also received an official Capitals Hockey School banner to display in their school year-round.
This was the eleventh Capitals Hockey School visit this season. The Capitals host two Hockey School visits each month between September and May and donate street hockey equipment to each participating school.
This is the fifth consecutive year the Capitals have conducted their Hockey School program. The Caps have hosted more than 50 clinics and reached more than 7,500 students in the past four years. Hockey School is a free program, designed to be both instructional and interactive, with the goal of exposing students to floor hockey while teaching proper hockey technique.
Backstrom scored his first goal in over in month and told Johnson after the game, “It was a relief actually.” You can tell by the smile below that Nicky loved playing again, even if it was only floor hockey. As he told the kids at the start of the hockey school, “Hockey is my life.”
Cheryl Nichols is a Columnist and Photographer for District Sports Page. She is credentialed to cover the Washington Capitals and has reported on the community service and fan events for Nats News Network and Caps News Network since 2006. Cheryl is an accomplished action photographer and has been published in The Washington Post and many other local media. She was a credentialed photographer for the 2010 season covering the Washington Nationals. You can follow her on Twitter @cnichols14.