Hockey ‘N Heels returned to the Verizon Center for the first time since the inaugural event in 2007. Many fans that had previous attended the Hockey ‘N Heels events at Kettler were excited about the venue change, especially the opportunity to see the Caps’ locker room. Getting a chance to walk across the Verizon Center ice was a treat as well.
This was the second Hockey ‘N Heels during the 2011-2012 season. The first one was in November at Kettler and featured Nicklas Backstrom, Troy Brouwer, Mathieu Perreault, former Head Coach Bruce Boudreau and former Assistant Coach Bob Woods. (Re-cap and photos). After talking with several attendees, an overwhelming majority preferred the Verizon Center venue.
On Monday night, Jan. 23, 2012, MIX 107.3 radio personality Chilli Amar kicked off the event with about 200 female hockey fans, close to half were first timers by a show of hands. The 6-9:15 p.m. event featured instructional lessons and on-ice demonstrations targeted towards the Capitals’ female audience. As always, this year’s event was only open to members of Club Scarlet, the Capitals’ female fan club.
The evening was divided into six sessions, including two on-ice demonstrations. The two on-ice sessions featured learning how to shoot the puck with defensemen Dmitri Orlov and Dennis Wideman and teaching the ladies how to stop the puck in the net with goalie Tomas Vokoun at the other end of the ice.
The third session was a photo station, a new addition to Hockey ‘n Heels this season. Nicklas Backstrom posed for photos in November and this event featured forward Alexander Semin taking pictures with each Hockey ‘n Heels attendee. The photos will be emailed to the attendees after the event.
The fourth session featured Caps’ strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish explaining to the ladies what fitness routines the players go through. The ladies actually performed real drills that the players do before games.
The fifth session was a question and answer sit down with former Capital and Comcast SportsNet analyst Alan May (Caps assistant coach Jim Johnson was unable to attend as previously scheduled). May broke the news of Alex Ovechkin’s suspension to the ladies which prompted many questions about the suspension, hits, concussions and general play of the game.
Alan May can sure tell a story. One group was entertained by his animated tale of the scrap with Kevin “Killer” Kaminski during the Alumni Game in the fall. The one comment repeated throughout the tour (sixth session) was that there was not enough time with May. If you follow him on Twitter (and if you don’t you should), you already know that he is open, honest and funny.
The sixth session was a tour of the event floor at Verizon Center including the media room, family room, players’ lounge, visitors’ locker room, Caps locker room and equipment room. During the tour, head equipment manager Brock Myles explained the different equipment the players wear, how he arranges the locker room in order to get ready for a game, which equipment was kept at Kettler and a lot of other fun tidbits. Mike Knuble prefers Big League Chew bubble gum. The team travels with 3,500 lbs of equipment for a game. He has the inside scoop. Many ladies expressed how much they enjoyed the tour and that it was their favorite part of the event.
There were also fantastic refreshments from Taylor Gourmet and attendees got to take home a souvenir Club Scarlet tumbler. Hockey ‘N Heels was another success and the women are looking forward to the next one.
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.