Gordon’s stunning game-winner in the shootout pushes Girls past Boys 1-0
The Washington Capital’s Boyd Gordon and team mascot Slapshot visited the Bristow Run Elementary school today. With 180 fifth graders in attendance, you just knew things were going to get rowdy. After some brief silliness from a giant inflatable Slapshot, these kids got down to business with a Q and A with the Capitals’ winger. Good thing I don’t get paid for these blogs or these beat-reporters in training might just put me out of a job.
Here’s a brief cross-section of some of the questions asked, and Boyd’s answers.
Q: If you’re from Canada, why are you called the Washington Capitals?
A: “Well, I’m from Canada, but the team I play for is from Washington.”
Q: How old were you when you first started?
A: “I guess I was about three when I started skating; four when I started playing hockey.”
Q: What’s it like?
A: “Well, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do; I love playing for the Washington Capitals.”
Q: How many bones have you broken?
A: “Let’s see, my wrist, shoulder, three or four fingers, and my ankle” (this drew sounds of astonished respect from the crowd in attendance)
Q: Do you like checking?
A: “Not as much as some” (laughing)
Q: Have you ever figure-skated?
A: “No, they usually go out before us, but I’ve never tried it.”
Q: How often do you fall down?
A: “Every shift” (laughing)
Q: What’s your favorite color?
A: “Blue” (this drew big applause from the crowd)
Q: What’s your favorite animal?
A: “The Lion”
So afterwards, Boyd began to demonstrate some of hockey’s basics when “you-know-who” showed up; the real Slapshot!
After the excitement died down, Slapshot helped Boyd demonstrate the basics like stick-handling, passing and shooting. After some breakout clinics where groups of kids were selected to practice each of these, it was time to get down to the business at hand.
After weeks of taunting, and hair-pulling at the hands of the Boys; the Girls had had enough. Flanking their superstar, Boyd Gordon, the girls threw down the challenge to the Boys to “put up, or shut up”.
The Boys were ready to face the Girls’ challenge with a ringer of their own; The Mighty Slapshot. This was going to be an old fashioned grudge match. Street-level Hockey with pride on the line. This game was not for the feint of heart; no rules, no officials, just straight up back and forth, old time, fire-wagon hockey.
Gordon knew the importance of this game, and nothing was going to keep him from it. “I played in Atlanta, and Tampa, but I didn’t play last night.” Gordon looked tired, and should have been, considering he had just flown in from Florida with the team who arrived in DC around two in the morning; but he wouldn’t admit it. “It never really bothers me, I guess I’m just used to it.”
I spoke with J.R. Zeigler, the director of the Prince William Ice Center, located in Dale City, VA to get a feel for whether or not kids of this age range would be able to grasp the game of Hockey.
“We work with all kinds of kids; from those who can only just barely stand up, to those getting ready to enter college programs,” said Zeigler. Some of Zeigler’s kids drive from as far away as Richmond to skate at his rink. I quickly got the feeling that if he was here, we were in for some good hockey.
After the two teams were selected, they huddled up. The Boys selected Slapshot to play goalie, while the Girls opted to play with an empty net and an extra attacker for the whole game!
After the [puck?] was dropped, it looked like the Girls may have made a bad decision, as the Boys poured the pressure on early. Solid defensive play and a good back-check helped get the Girls out of the corner and into open [ice?]. Gordon was called on to make a few saves in the crease and helped lead the charge back into the Boys’ zone where they ran into the solid defense of the Boys. At the end of the half, it was 0-0, and I think that the Boys had a slight lead in shots on goal.
In the second period, both teams came out with eight [skaters?] something you would never see in a regulation NHL game. The Girls crashed the Boys’ net early, and you could see the fatigue starting to set in on Slapshot as he laid down in the crease and appeared to be trying to take a nap. It would have been easy for the Boys to roll over and give up, but the defense held, including an impressive block on a shot by Gordon from a severe angle.
The crowd seemed to be split evenly. So much so, that you couldn’t tell who they were rooting for. Chants of “LET’S GO [indeciperable]!” rained down through the [rink?]. The crowd counted down the remaining seconds in regulation, and a special overtime shoot-out was called.
When the [ice?] cleared, only two remained. At center [ice?] stood Gordon; Champion of the Girls Team and their MVP, and in net stood Slapshot, well rested from his mid period nap. The rules were simple. Boyd would get one shot on net. If he scored, the Girls won; if he missed, the Boys would be crowned the winner.
Gordon, with the game on his stick, literally lifted the [puck?] like he was using a shovel and deposited it behind Slapshot for the game-winning and only goal. The crowd went crazy, the underdog Girls had pulled off the impossible! The only thing missing was Al Michaels asking “Do you believe in miracles?!” Yes, Mr. Michaels, we do.
I fought through the crowds and got a chance to interview the game’s only star.
Q: How did it feel to get the games only goal in an overtime shootout for what was truly an emotional game?
A: “Well, it feels great. We didn’t want to lose with Slapshot playing so poorly in net.”
Q: How did you feel about your own performance in net this afternoon?
A: “The last time I played goal, I was five years old and a girl scored on me three times. I haven’t played goal since.”
Q: Do you think the energy from this emotional win will carry over into the Caps next game versus Toronto?
A: “Boy I hope so.”
In all seriousness, the Caps put on a great show for the kids, and as if the fun wasn’t enough, all of the equipment used during the visit was donated to the school. According to Zeigler, this year the Caps and their players have visited more schools than in any of the previous year’s. These guys like Boyd volunteer for it, and it’s great for the kids. Makes me wish I was still in the fifth grade.
At least I’d have gotten a novelty soft-foam puck!