I’ve been to something along the lines of a jillion hockey games in my life, but Saturday’s Capitals vs. Rangers playoff game brought a new experience my way – and not just getting to see the Caps take a series in five games. (But really, how awesome was that? I’ll tell you: pretty damn awesome.)
About a month ago, my brother found out that he won a season ticket holder appreciation prize of a Zamboni* ride during the playoffs, and being the good dad he is, he knew it was just the thing to surprise seven-year-old D with. Once the schedule was set, Brian picked game five for the ride – knowing the Saturday daytime game would be best for D and with not a worry in the world that it wouldn’t happen – because no Caps fan would ever assume a four-game sweep in the playoffs.
D is an excitable and squirmy hockey fan under the calmest of circumstances, but playoffs plus Zamboni ride had him nearly bouncing out of his seat from the moment he arrived. Once the clock got down to 10 minutes left in the first period – we were supposed to meet our escort to ice-level with five minutes remaining – he started asking about every 30 seconds when we were heading down. (The kid can tell time, of course. He was just that anxious.) Finally, it was time…
I’ve never been in the bowels of an arena during a hockey game before, so it was cool to look around and see what goes on. It’s a bit like being backstage at a play, except way less chaotic. I imagine that’s not the case near the locker rooms, but the ice crew area was pretty low-key. We had a minute or two to take some pictures of D posing in front of the Zambonis before he was hoisted up, strapped into position, and driven off.
We grownups had a few minutes to kill before we could follow the Zambonis to the rink to take pictures. While we were waiting, Brian and I were both pretty excited to see John Erskine, one of the Caps defensemen, appear about 10 feet from us to do his intermission interview. I took his picture, being the total geeky fangirl that I am.
D’s ride was a bit of a whirlwind, which is funny, because it seems like a long, drawn-out process when I’m sitting around waiting for intermission to end. I was allowed to use the official photographer hole in the glass to take pictures and video, so everything came out better than I expected. And though it’s hard to see because of the distance, D looked like he was having a blast. Brian and I both reminded him about a thousand times that he had to wave, because everyone would be waving at him, and – being the rule-follower he is – the kid did not stop once. He was right up there with the British royals and Miss America in his commitment to waving. (Someday, he’ll get to say his first hockey injury was shoulder fatigue from excessive waving on the Zamboni.)
Below is the slideshow of his big day. Do note that, after much anxiety about his front tooth being loose, he was down for having it pulled after being told he’d look like his hero, Alex Ovechkin.
I took a little video too, but having limited video-shooting skills – and even fewer editing skills – it’s not terrific, but it gets the idea across anyway.
Oh, while I’m on the topic of the Caps, check out the weirdest bit of fan appreciation I’ve ever seen, courtesy of Russian Machine Never Breaks. Wacky, no? And more than a little creepy, I’d venture to say. Here I thought knitting my own Winter Classic hat might have been overmuch as a statement of fandom, but, as it turns out, I wasn’t even close.
* Yes, I know Zamboni is a brand name and the Caps use Olympia ice clearers, but really, Zamboni is up there with Xerox and Kleenex as brands that define their objects.