By Hockey Mom and Caps Girl
More than 200 female Caps fans gathered at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Wednesday night for Scarlet Caps’ annual Hockey 'n Heels event. Tickets to Hockey 'n Heels are always a hot commodity and this year was no exception – tickets sold out in a mere 20 minutes!
The enthusiastic attendees represented a diverse range of ages and interests but all were there to learn more about hockey from an insider perspective and to forge new friendships with fellow female hockey fans. Mix 107.3’s Chilli Amar kicked off the festivities by previewing the different activities that would take place during the evening: interactive on-ice demonstrations featuring current players Troy Brouwer, Karl Alzner and Mathieu Perreault, a photo session with Nicklas Backstrom, strength and conditioning demo with Mark Nemish, Chalk Talk with John Walton and Alan May and of course, the always colorful film session with Head Coach Bruce Boudreau.
The ladies broke up into groups then hit the ice to learn the finer points of passing and slap shots as well as the art of successfully winning a face off, as instructed by Assistant Coach Bob Woods. Hockey Mom tried a few slap shots under the tutelage of one very patient Mathieu Perreault and whiffed the puck more than a few times. All those years of yelling “put your stick down” to her boys during their hockey games came back to haunt her! The players all had a great time with the women during the on-ice sessions and expressed their appreciation for the large and unique fan base that the ladies represent!
After sharing their skills (along with plenty of laughs) on the ice, the women headed upstairs for refreshments and to take in the Conditioning Session with Strength and Conditioning Coach Mark Nemish, Film Session with Coach Boudreau or Chalk Talk with CSN’s Alan May and the voice of the Capitals, John Walton.
Mark Nemish put the ladies through some of the paces that NHL players typically perform to warm up before games and answered lots of questions pertaining to maintaining the exceptional conditioning required of pro players to excel through a long and grueling season. Team Mascot Slap Shot was there as well but seemed to fall down quite a bit during the drills – we think Coach Nemish may need to increase his cardio training!
Next came the always popular film session led by Coach Boudreau where he illustrated how the coaching staff and players view game film from their own games and those of upcoming opponents to develop a solid game strategy. He used the film from the previous nights’ loss to Dallas and pointed out what players did both right and wrong according to the game plan. When pointing out a defensive lapse that led to a Stars goal, Gabby drew plenty of chuckles when he quipped, “See right there – you know I sometimes get a little animated behind the bench.” The jovial coach also exhibited his signature sense of humor when answering questions from the audience on everything to the NHL’s new position on handling concussions to how he decides to shake up the Cap’s lines.
The final session was a very entertaining Chalk Talk with Alan May and John Walton where they described the intense preparation required for on-air game broadcasts. Researching stats and information on the opposing teams in addition to pre- and post-broadcast work means long days starting at 6:30 a.m. and ending hours after the zamboni makes the final run on the ice. Alan May talked about his transition from former NHLer to the broadcast booth (along with his recent Alumni Game scrap with “Killer” Kaminski) while Walton provided his personal story which includes covering several Calder-Cup winning seasons with the Hershey Bears.
All in all, Hockey 'n Heels was another tremendous success and Scarlet Caps plans to hold another one this season due to the ever-increasing number of female Caps and the event’s popularity.