ARLINGTON, Va. — Some young hockey players from Southeast D.C. got to live the dream of many hockey fans and get pointers on the ice from the Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin.
It is an annual tradition for Caps players to work with members of the nation’s oldest minority youth hockey club, the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club.
“Every year, it’s more fun than finals,” said Ovechkin about the opportunity to jump on the ice with kids from the club, who range in age from 5 to 17 years old.
After a Caps practice session on Thursday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Virginia, the Caps’ winger put on a Santa hat and worked with the kids on everything from stick handling to passing techniques.
“It was like a really good experience, ’cause, like, not many people get to meet the best of the best, so I feel kind of lucky,” said Santana, 12, whose mother didn’t want his last name published.
The team has hosted the youth hockey club since its first year playing, according to the club’s coach Neal Henderson, who began the club almost 42 years ago. Each year, Henderson says the children look forward to this meeting — and this year was no different.
“They want to be around Ovechkin; they want to mimic what he does,” Henderson said.
Ricardo Kornegay, 27, has been skating for 10 years and says he is thankful that Ovechkin is making time for his club. He added, “It’s a really kind thing to do; it’s the holidays so he could be with his family celebrating, he could be anywhere else.”
Henderson says he is thankful that players take their time each year to work with the kids and the young people realize how special of an opportunity it is, adding, “They’ve been talking about it for the past two weeks, hoping the day would hurry and get here.”
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