Why should a person attending a Washington Capitals home game get to the Verizon Center half an hour early? Why should a person make sure they’re well fed and hydrated before entering the arena? Well, if you’re into the total fan experience, you should consider getting to the Verizon Center in plenty of time to stake out your perfect seat(s) and watch warm-ups from the boards. Not only is it free, assuming you paid for your ticket, but it’s also quite an experience.
From being able to pound mercilessly on the plexi to locking eyes with and taking photos of your favorite player(s), watching warm-ups from the boards really is a special thing. Okay, maybe special is overstating it a bit, but there’s no denying how fun it is. Not only is it fun, but it’s also a learning experience. For instance, could you tell me which former player used to hand out no less than five pucks to fans, each and every warm-up? Could you name for me which player religiously tosses over two pucks with his stick, behind the goaltenders net? Would you be able to tell me which two players practice their passes with one another? Which player is responsible, barring injury, for retrieving the pucks out of the net, between warm-up routines? And where else could you really get a feel for just how hard Ovi shoots his one timers, which of course are set up by Nicky himself. If you want to find out the answers to any of these questions, make your way down to the boards for warm-ups.
Many of you may be wondering, “who is this girl?” Well, like many of you, I’m an avid Caps fan. Having said that, my journey to becoming a hockey junkie started a little later on in life. While I’ve always been a Redskins fanatic, I grew up in Central Texas, where no one, and I mean NO ONE, paid attention to hockey. (Those Texans don’t know what they’re missing out on. This obviously doesn’t include Stars fans.) Anyway, I moved back to the Northern Virginia area in 2002, and really started getting into the sport during the ’08 -’09 season. My sister, our mutual friend, and I quickly grew to love the sport, and invested in a few partial season ticket plans. We quickly realized that going to only ten games per season wasn’t going to cut it, so we put our names on the STH waiting list. Go figure that our first season as full season ticket holders would be during the 2012-2013 lockout/shortened season. What a bummer!
So you’d think that my sister would hold the same passion for watching warm-ups from the boards as I do, right? Wrong!!! Thankfully the third season ticket holder in our group, Ms. Lynn Brownell, does share this passion. We started off as a two person group, but have quickly grown to a rowdy (not really) group of between 8-10 people. While I’d like to say that we make it down to the boards each and every game, we don’t. I’d say that over a normal 41 game regular season, we probably make it down for about 32-35 games. You’ll often hear members of our group answering questions for other fans. Anything from how much longer before the players come out to who is that? We’ll also tell those sitting/standing close to us when to beware of flying pucks, because those frozen rubber things sure can hurt if they hit you. And if you’re really lucky, like it’s your first game or you’re holding a really cute baby, we’ll surely try our hardest to make sure you go home with a puck. It’s the least we could do, since we all have a healthy stockpile at our homes.
I’m hesitant to say where our group sits only because I don’t want our seats to be overtaken by other enthusiastic fans (yes, that’s the protective part coming out in me). Having said that, I’d love to be a place where fans come to have a fun time during warm-ups. The more the merrier, right? So Caps fans, if you’d ever like to come watch warm-ups with myself and my friends, you can find us in section 116, to the left of the net. Please don’t hesitate to come and say hi. I love meeting new people, especially when they hold similar interests. Here’s hoping that our boys have a successful season, and that each and every one of you make it down to the boards at least once.
By: Kate Jamison, @DCSportsLover, Caps STH since 2012-2013