Are you thinking about attending training camp? Have you always wanted to check out a Caps practice? Many of you have asked about it in the past, so we thought we’d put together some general information to assist you in your planning efforts. The following provides the basics, but should you have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out to NoVa Caps, or to the fine people at Kettler.
Kettler Capitals Iceplex is located at 627 North Glebe Road, Arlington, Virginia. You can reach them via phone at 571-224-0555, or visit them on their website. For practice times during the season, check the red “Caps Today” button in the upper right hand corner of the NoVa Caps home page.
A QUICK HISTORY AND OVERVIEW
After years of having their training camp in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and practicing in Piney Orchard, Maryland, Washington Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis decided his team needed an updated facility to call home. So in 2006, with the help of dedicated builders, Leonsis constructed a state of the art complex that became Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
Kettler Capitals Iceplex houses two ice rinks, a weight room, training rooms, offices for Capitals and Washington Mystics staff, eight locker rooms, a lounge area, seating for 1,200, a video room, a team store, a pro shop, and a cafe. What makes it unique is that it is situated on the eighth-level of the Ballston Mall parking garage, in Arlington, Virginia. It is the highest ice Rink in the United States, and is the home rink for the Georgetown University and George Washington University club teams; in addition, it also hosts numerous youth teams throughout the year. Kettler is a must-see for any Capitals fan. Here is everything you need to know about the best practice facility in the NHL
The parking garage can be accessed from either Randolph or North Glebe Road. Since the ice complex is situated at the top of the parking garage, parking space is abound at Kettler. The top-level usually has several spaces open, but during fan events and other big activities, parking is limited. Parking is an ultra-affordable $1 for under two hours of parking. Once you get to the top, parking is usually easy to find.
Kettler is one of, if not the, best places to get autographs and pictures from your favorite players. After talking to media and practices, players can be found signing autographs at the rink. After practices, fans can stand outside the players’ exit and wait for players to exit the facility. (It should be noted that some players park on other levels of the garage, depending on day, player, etc. Level 7 is used by many of the players). The players are always happy to take a photo or sign an autograph, so don’t hesitate to ask, but please be courteous to the players and understanding of their time commitments. They are the best, so lets treat them like they are.
TEAM STORE/PRO SHOP
Kettler houses two shops, one dedicated to fan apparel and souvenirs, and the other to player equipment such as pads, skates, sticks, stick tape, etc. The pro shop is located on the upper level of the facility and is open until 10:30 pm Sunday–Friday. The team store is the best place to find car decals, t-shirts, hard, sweatshirts, jerseys, and much, much more. If you hate paying shipping costs on Shop.NHL.com, Kettler customizes blank jerseys for a mere $60. They also have jerseys of the team already made and they come at a price of $185. Kettler is the go-to destination for any fan looking for the perfect gift.
Kettler provides food and drink at the Caps Cafe, located on the main floor of the facility. Fans can enjoy chips, coffee, pretzels, and other delicious treats while enjoying practices or other events. If the cafe isn’t filling, Kettler is just above the Ballston Mall, which has a food court with the likes of McDonald’s, Chick-fil-a, Subway, and other good dining options.
GOING TO A CAPS PRACTICE FOR THE FIRST TIME? HERE’S WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
If you want to come to a Caps practice or have been to one and don’t understand what’s going on, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide you’ll learn what the uniforms mean, the typical practice times, the length and the difference between practices and morning skates. Also be sure to check out the Fan Guide to Kettler
For starters, if you’ve parked on the top level of the garage, you’ll see the facility. There’s two doors for entry, one on the right side and one to the left. The right doors are restricted to members of the team and those who work for them only. The left doors are for the general pubic. Once you walk in you’ll see the team store and the Capitals rink to your right and the public rink and the Caps Café to your left. There’s also another level upstairs where you can get a nice view of both rinks. The pro shop is also located upstairs for those who want to purchase hockey equipment.
If you parked on a different level of the garage, you can enter right into the facility through the elevators near the end. Just simply go up to the last floor and it’ll take you right up to public rink
Now onto the practice itself: typically practices last up to an hour and take place at 10:30 a.m. Sometimes the schedule varies depending on travel back home from road games, when the next game is, etc but they’ll always practice on a non game day. The schedule is located on the Capitals PR website CapitalsToday.com and they do a consistent job in updating the schedule and posting whether a practice gets cancelled or not. You can also follow them on Twitter @CapitalsPR.
The Capitals use both the public rink and the Capitals rink for their practices. They’ll start on the public rink and practice there for a half hour before changing to the Capitals rink to continue their drills. For morning skates, they start at 10:30 on the morning of Capitals home games. The Caps only use the Capitals rink and the official session takes a half hour but players start arriving on the ice 15-30 minutes before it begins.
**For practice jerseys, you might be wondering what each color means. Here’s a chart to help you out:
Red = Top six forwards
White = Bottom six forwards
Navy Blue = Defensemen
Light Blue = Non contact
The goalies are in red jerseys on each end of the ice. If you enter the doors of the Capitals rink or are watching from the bleachers, the starter’s net is on your right. That is Braden Holtby’s usual home. The backup is on the other side. The first goalie to leave the ice following a morning skate signifies that they will get the start in that night’s game.**
By Michael Marzzacco**
Kettler is one block from the Ballston Metro stop, located on the Orange and Silver Lines.
By Michael Fleetwood