The 2019 Armed Forces Hockey Classic

Don’t have much going on over Memorial Weekend? Feel like watching hockey being played for a good cause for FREE?

“The Armed Forces Hockey Classic (AFHC) is a tournament where military veterans the Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy come together to compete against one another while raising money for the United Heroes League (UHL). The UHL wants to ensure that all 5 million military kids are able to develop critical life skills through sports. This intense focus on youth development and serving the families of our military service members motivates the UHL to keep programs focused. This focus has inspired 115 professional athletes and over 30 professional sports franchises to lend their name and support to the UHL.”

The Washington Capitals have supported the UHL since their start in 2009 along with many other franchises, like the Minnesota Vikings and the Los Angeles Kings. Players/coaches who have contributed to this cause have been Nicklas Backstrom, Karl Alzner, Bruce Boudreau, Taylor Chorney, Matt Hendricks, Nate Schmidt, and many others!

This event is being held just outside of Dallas, Texas in North Richland Hills. Veterans, local and country-wide, are gathering there to play the greatest sport for an excellent cause. Coordinators have stated that they have received donations and incoming participants from places like Alaska, Colorado and even the DMV! The winning team of the tournament will get to hoist the James “Maggie” Megellas Championship Trophy. Who knows, you may see someone you’ll recognize!

2010 AFHC Champions – Team Navy/Marine Corp.

The tournament will begin May 25 @ 10:00 am EDT, first puck drop @ 10:15 am. All games will be live-streamed via Facebook here. For more information on the AFHC and the UHL, click here. Have a wonderful weekend!

Capitals, Canada, and Black Hockey History Museum

Fan FiCP writer Velvet Jackson shares with us about her visit to the Canadian Embassy for the National Hockey League’s Black Hockey History Mobile Museum. We are blessed in DC to have the opportunity to learn more and to celebrate the accomplishments of black hockey players.

Continue reading “Capitals, Canada, and Black Hockey History Museum”

Devante Smith-Pelly and John Carlson Invite Youth Hockey Team to Caps Game for Sticking It to Racism

When Washington Capitals right-winger Devante Smith-Pelly headed to the penalty box at United Center he was greeted by an unwelcoming surprise from a couple of Chicago Blackhawks fans. Typically a player in the sin bin would expect the occasional boo or fun-playful heckle but this particular group crossed the line in the most despicable way imaginable. Smith-Pelly was subjected to racial taunts including the chants of “basketball, basketball, basketball.” The Blackhawks and the NHL sent a message by banning the fans for life but unfortunately this is a problem for many athletes that still hasn’t been resolved today. To make matters worse, it’s not just the pros who have to deal with it.  Continue reading “Devante Smith-Pelly and John Carlson Invite Youth Hockey Team to Caps Game for Sticking It to Racism”

Caps Parade was a Family Affair

in the days since the Capitals Stanley Cup Parade, we have heard and read a lot of negative comments about bringing children to the event. Our thought? If you were smart about it, it was manageable.

dsc_0262We love that this was a day for fathers AND MOTHERS to share the day with their sons AND DAUGHTERS! It was a little bit of history and legacy mixed together. Continue reading “Caps Parade was a Family Affair”

Hockey is Our Sport of Choice

It was a rough morning for DC sports – again…

The Nationals, our treasured MLB team, lost a game five need to win match against the Chicago Cubs. Like the Capitals, they seem to have a ‘Do Not Advance’ past the first round curse.

Basketball, baseball, football, soccer, or hockey- DC Sports just can’t seem to make it happen for the region. This photo popped up this morning and it pretty much summarizes the problem for fans.


So what do we do? Do we hang our heads and walk away? After the devastating loss in the early hours of Friday the 13th, many NATS fans seem to think so. Many Caps fans felt like that after they lost another run for the Stanley Cup in round two of the playoffs.

But for us, Hockey will always be our sport of choice. We understand Nat’s fans frustration all too well. We had that moment of throwing in the towel and selling our season tickets and moving our alliance to another sport.


At the end of the day there is something really special about being part of the Hockey community, especially the Capital’s community. In Hockey, we lift each other up, as we saw in the Vegas Golden Knights opening. We are there with prayers and well wishes whenever we hear of an illness in the family. The Caps as an organization has reached out to fans suffering with tragedy like young Benston. It doesn’t matter if it is the Caps family in need or that of another team, even if not a professional team. We are united in a unique way. And for us, the Caps family is world-wide. We have been privileged to meet people from all walks of life and call each other Friends.


We stand in long lines to cheer on our team for opening night. We bundle up on hot days to enter the ice cold rink. We drive to Arlington to watch our team practice and stand outside to get their autographs and selfies with them. We ride the subway to and from games-and have ride-long ‘discussions’ about player performances, trades, and opponents. We are everywhere all season long. We are Family! 

So lift your heads Nats fans and come join our Hockey family. There is always room for you. We promise you will sit on the edge of your seat for 60 minutes of sports, not just one inning. You will get to meet your sports crush and a whole slew of rowdy fans. You will never regret joining the Washington Capitals bandwagon!!’

NOVA Cool Cats: US Marshall’s vs Arlington County Fire Company Fundraiser!


Most of you know about the NOVA Cool Cats because of the great support the Washington Capitals have provided for this group, especially that from Alex Ovechkin. April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day and at Kettler Ice Plex the US Marshall’s and the Arlington County Fire Company ice hockey teams skated with the Cats and put on a great game to raise awareness and funds in support of this team.

We love events like this. Organizations like the NOVA Cool Cats  (and another of our favorites, The Montgomery Cheetahs) provide a place for some very special people to participate in hockey. However, groups like these can’t do it on their own–they need the greater hockey community to support them with their time and with their dollars!! Sunday was a perfect day for doing both.

We loved being part of the crowd today. Here are some shots that Wendy Hockey and I took to give you just a taste of how wonderful events like this are for our community.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Cool Cats got to meet both teams and skate with them for warm ups before the scrimmage began. Final score for the match was 5-2 in favor of the Arlington County Fire Department–but both teams were winners in our book!

Funds raised today will help the NOVA Cool Cats to Special Hockey team so they can compete in the  special hockey tournaments.. If you would like to support them or the Cheetahs, please click on the links above to donate directly. And like their pages on Facebook so you can come to events in the future.

 

Caps, Abu Dhabi, and a Young Woman’s Dream in Photos

Back in November 2016, former Capital’s player Peter Bondra took off to participate in a hockey clinic in the United Arab Emirates and met an incredible female hockey player in the process. That young woman, Fatima Al Ali, so impressed Bondra with her stickhandling abilities that by December he had crafted a plan to bring her to Washington DC to meet the Capitals.

fatima-pregameWednesday, after patiently watching practice from the bench, Alex Ovechkin invited her to join him on the ice.  Fatima was all smiles. We can’t help but wonder what Ovi was saying to her as they talked about hockey.  ovi-welcome-to-ice

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading “Caps, Abu Dhabi, and a Young Woman’s Dream in Photos”

We’ve Got Friends in Hot Places Too: FiCP Welcomes Luis to the Team

A few weeks back our contributor and Twitter King Chris Cleveland was complaining that he needed another guy on our girl team. I knew he was right but we also wanted to make sure we added the right person. And then it came to me; ask Luís Felipe Rodrigues, better known by many of you as @WCapitalsBR (Capitals Brasil) on Twitter. And he agreed. He’ll be writing on a regular basis about life as a Caps fan outside of the country and some pieces about his perspective on the Caps. Please welcome him here and give him a follow on Twitter too. 

Here is an introduction to our newest team member:

Where do you live?

I’m from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, born and raised. The place is a reference of summer, beaches, sun and our most popular sport, soccer. I love soccer, but I love hockey with the same intensity.

You recently said you graduated with a history degree? What do you do?

I’ve got my History degree last December, now I want a Master degree in Medieval History. I also would love to write about hockey. I’m in the Navy since 2013, same year I founded the Washington Capitals Brasil.

How did you come to like hockey and the Caps?

It was around 2000-2001, I was six or seven years old at the time. My cousin called me to play the game he bought: NHL Face Off 2000 (for PlayStation One). I always liked winter sports, even living in a tropical country. So, I fell in love with the sport at that very moment. My cousin chose Colorado Avalanche because the logo is a big “A”, and his name is Adriano. I chose the Caps because of that weagle logo; the blue one was my favorite jersey. The player I like most it’s Peter Bondra.

How do you watch or listen?

Here in Brazil, just ESPN has the NHL’s broadcasting rights, but it’s just a few Caps games. It’s just two guys, Ari Aguiar (play-by-play announcer) and Thiago Simões (analyst) are hockey fans and doing a great job, but it’s just one channel and it’s 30 teams in the NHL (now 31, with Las Vegas). So, when it doesn’t broadcast Caps’ games, I use streaming websites, because we don’t have channels like CSN here and the NHL GameCenter is kinda expensive, because we must pay in dollars if we want to get it. One dollar at this moment is worth around R$ 3,20 (Brazilian Real). Sometimes I listen to John Walton in the App.

How hard is it to follow since English is not your first language?

I have loved the English language since I was a kid. So, I studied hard by myself, because the courses are expensive here and it takes some time. You have to do a monthly payment and also, buy the material, like books. I think I can write pretty well, but I need to practice my speaking and listening skills. But I’m improving it lately.

Have you been to a game?

Unfortunately, no. Now it’s 17 years since I started to love hockey and it’s a big dream I MUST realize as soon as I can. It’s taking longer than I expected. I was close last year, I tried to get the Tourist VISA, but it was denied. I can’t wait to see the Caps.

You tweet a lot and have a blog- are there many followers or hockey fans in Brazil?

Thanks to internet and the broadcasting on ESPN, people are knowing hockey. It’s getting known slowly, but it’s a progress. Gradually, people are contacting us and asking to join our WhatsApp group. We have groups like Capitals Brasil on WhatsApp and NHL Brasil on Facebook and WhatsApp. We have followers from Brazil and abroad, mainly USA.

I’d like to take the opportunity and say “thanks” to all the Americans who follow and interact with us. Some of them said very kind words of support and admiration to our project. They’re also part of our history. And, representing the Washington Capitals Brasil, I’d like to say thank you to FiCP for your invitation, I loved the interview and you girls’ project is great!

So there you have it friends. We are thrilled to have Luis collaborating with us. We are also really excited to see the Caps and the hockey community growing outside of the traditional markets. You’ll be hearing more from Luis soon.

If you would like to join our team, just send us an email at friendsincoldplacesdc@gmail.com and tell us how you would like to contribute–especially if you would like to be part of our Caps Friends Around the World.

Blind Ice Hockey at Kettler’s Capitals Rink

 

 

Saturday, February 20, 2016, Kettler Iceplex hosted “Try Blind Hockey” on the Washington Capitals ice rink. The event was presented with the help of USA Hockey as part of Hockey is For Everyone Month. As the Capitals explained, the event was “intended to expose visually impaired players of all ages to hockey.”

About Blind Hockey

USA Blind Hockey has its roots in Courage USA. Founded in September 2014, Courage USA, with its sister organization, Courage Canada Hockey for the Blind, hope to develop and expand the rapidly growing Parasport of blind or visually impaired hockey. Since 2008, Courage Canada Hockey has been teaching children and youth learn to skate and Try Blind Ice Hockey. Currently there are seven Canadian blind hockey teams. The participants vision ranges for 10 percent vison to totally blind. Started in the mid-70s in Canada, some of the differences in blind hockey compared to a regular hockey game are:

  • Goals can be scored only on the bottom half of the net because the goalies are legally blind and pucks don’t make noise in the air.
  • The puck they use an adapted puck that makes constant noise, is both bigger and slower than a traditional puck, made of hollow steel and contains eight ball bearings.
  • The partially blind can see the bigger puck and those who are completely blind can hear the puck.

Courage USA hopes to mirror the efforts of the Canadian league to make blind hockey an international sport. If you would like to help support USA Hockey and blind hockey, please check out their web page at www.usahockeyfoundation.com

Brendan Friedrich and Blind Hockey

When we heard that it was Try Blind Hockey Day at Kettler, we were intrigued to learn how someone who is blind plays hockey. Before the Blind Hockey program began, we were watching Caps practice and we met a young man named Brendan who was there to not only try blind hockey, but get the VIP treatment from the Capitals, including meeting his favorite player (and mine) Braden Holtby!

Brendan was standing next to the FICP crew by the glass as the Caps started to skate out. We introduced ourselves and then starting telling him who was skating past him and his family. Brendan himself is blind but you wouldn’t know that from his enthusiastic responses on hearing that Holtby was out on the ice and taking shots from players at the other end of the rink for early goalie practice.
Next thing we knew, Brendan was being interviewed by Scott Abraham of Channel 7 ABC News. Before we could get anymore descriptions on who was out there to Brendan, he was whisked over to meet with Caps radio broadcaster John Walton on the other side of the rink. From there we saw Brendan and his family smile the whole time he was watching thru the glass, hearing the pucks hitting the glass right in front of him. You could see he was yelling at that player to shoot harder!

DSC_0587After Caps practice was over, Brendan and his family were taken to the locker room to meet Braden Holtby and get not only a jersey signed by Holtby but a real game used Holtby goalie stick including one for his brother. Braden Holtby proving once again, he is a class act! If you haven’t seen the video of Brendan’s meeting with Holtby, go watch it now. It’s such a great moment for everyone!

Blind Hockey at Kettler

Following practice, the Capitals rink was resurfaced and it was time for Try Blind Hockey. Watching all the skaters being led by volunteers was an unbelievable experience and the main reason I came to Kettler for the day. The Caps holding a practiceDSC_0435 beforehand was icing on the cake. The best part of watching Try Blind Hockey was the volunteers who were genuinely excited to be there and help out people on the ice. There was one young man who was having some trouble figuring out how to get his feet to move on the ice with the skates on and the volunteer got down on his knees on the cold ice to help move his feet for him. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had and I can’t wait to get more involved in these parts of the hockey community.

As for Brendan, after skating he moved into the broadcast booth, where he’s most comfortable to do a little announcing and to get warmed up for his debut later that night with Wes Johnson at Verizon center to announce the caps on to the ice for warmups!! Our thanks to Patrick McDermott of the Washington Capitals for sharing these photos of Brendan in the booth with Wes.

Well done Brendan!! And you were good luck for the Caps to comeback and beat the NJ Devils 4-3 We were so thankful to meet Brendan and we look forward to following Brendan and his career as an announcer!

Go Caps!! As Brendan would yell!!

 

By Mel Abernethy

Photos by Mel and Brittney, except where noted.