The 2019 Capitals Alumni Classic took place Tuesday night at MedStar Capitals Iceplex. A reasonably large crowd was in hand for this annual summer tradition. NoVa Caps’ Diane Doyle was in attendance to recap the game.
As is customary for Caps’ alumni games, participants were divided into two teams: Team Red and Team White. The plan was for the game to consist of three 15-minute periods, with intermissions in between. The first intermission would be 18 minutes in length but the second intermission would last just 5 minutes.
The White Team was coached by Yvon Labre, a member of the inaugural Capitals team, and consisted of the following players: Dennis Maruk, Paul Mulvey, Patrick Wellar, Dmitri Khristich, Kelly Miller, Alan May, Bobby Carpenter, Bryan Helmer and Dave Parro in goal. Also on the White Team were Peter Bondra’s two sons, David and Nick, and two fans named Bryan Pilpel and AlSahbra who had bid and won spots on the team in an on-line auction. The former was a 16 year old student from Seneca Valley High School in Maryland. As was the case in previous years, the caveat was that the winning bidders for spots on either alumni team had to be competent skaters.
The Red Team was coached by Rod Langway and consisted of the following players: Olaf Kolzig, Brent Johnson, Ken Sabourin, Errol Rausse, Peter Bondra, Mike Knuble, John Druce, Andrei Nikolishin, and Matt Herr. As with the White team, there were extra players on the Red Team: Mike Wagner (auction winner), Taylor Roncone, and Radha. One notable feature of the Red Team was that neither of the former Caps goalies on the team, Olaf Kolzig nor Brent Johnson, were playing goal, but were playing defense, instead. The goalie for the Red Team was Meeks.
The game started off with the White Team dominating possession early. Denting the twine at 1:39 was Kelly Miller, who got an assist from Alan May.
The Red Team struck back to tie at 2:51. Peter Bondra scored, getting an assist from Brent Johnson.
— MonumentalSportsNet (@MonSportsNet) June 25, 2019
The White Team wasted no time getting their lead back at 3:12 when Dmitri Khristich scored, getting an assists by Nick Bondra.
At 8:32, Dennis Maruk scored for White, with an assist by Khristich. Less than a minute later, David Bondra got an unassisted goal at 9:22. The White team was now up 4-1.
With about a minute and a half remaining in the first period, Matt Herr finally got the Red Team’s second goal, getting an assist from Error Rausse. This was at 13:38. The score was now 4-2
The White Team regained their 3 goal lead when, with just 30 seconds left in the period, Kelly Miller scored, getting assists from Khristich and one of the Bondra sons.
The way it was looking during the first period, the White Team was dominating possession and might win this contest in a blowout. In analyzing the personnel. it appeared the White Team had more former offensive stars with the Caps, including Maruk, Carpenter, and Khristich, than the Red Team, although the Red Team had Peter Bondra. Plus, the White Team had former Caps goalie Dave Parro in their net while the Red Team had Meeks who had won a spot.
The second period was MUCH different than than first. The Red Team opened the scoring at 2:27 when Andrei Nicholishin scored, with an assist from Peter Bondra.
The White Team struck back at 3:59 p, when Alan May had a breakaway, and scored, getting an assist from Nick Bondra in the process. The score was now 6-4.
Peter Bondra then took things into his own hands for the Red Team. He first scored at 6:29, getting an assist from Andrei Nicholishin. Bondra scored again at 7:40, with an assist from Errol Rausse. The score was now tied in a game that observers earlier thought would be a blowout.
The White Team regained the lead when Nick Bondra scored at 11:28, getting an assist from Paul Mulvey. But then Nick’s father showed that he was still the master. Peter Bondra scored again, at 12:48 to knot the score at 7-7. He got assists from Herr and Wagner.
The teams traded goals during the last minute of the period, first with Radhe of the White Team scoring at 14:15, with an assist by John Druce to put the Red Team ahead. But David Bondra of the White team scored with just 3 seconds left, getting an assist from Al Sahbra. The score was now 8-8 going into the second intermission.
Like father, like son! David Bondra SNIPES one to tie it up at the @Capitals Alumni Summer Classic heading into the 3rd.
— MonumentalSportsNet (@MonSportsNet) June 26, 2019
Things were looking much better for the Red Team than they did during the first period when it appeared they would be blown out. The highlights that period were mainly provided by the Bondra family, as Peter Bondra scored two goals and one assist for Team Red, with his sons providing multiple heroics.
Kelly Miller scored at 1:30 into the third period, putting the White team Team up 9-8. The White Team scored two more unanswered goals, first when Nick Bondra scored at 9:01, with assists by Maruk and Carpenter, and then Milpaus scored at 11:09, getting an assist from David Bondra. The score was now 11-8.
The Red Team struck back very soon afterwards, when Matt Wagner scored at 11:20, with assists from Matt Herr and Olie Kolzig. It was now 11-9.
After that, it was the empty net situation, as the Red tried to mount a late rally. At least one member of Team Red knocked down the net so it was face down on the ice. But play continued on, anyhow.
Bryan Pilpel of the White Team got an empty net goal with just two seconds to go, managing to find a place to shoot a goal into a net that was placed in a non-conventional angle. He got an assist from Carpenter. The final scored was 12-9.
16-year-old @SenecaValleyHS student Bryan Pilpel nets the icing on the 🍰 for team Labre!
FINAL: ⚪️ 12 – 🔴 9 pic.twitter.com/ywJM6E9sIh
— MonumentalSportsNet (@MonSportsNet) June 26, 2019
The last period did not feature as much scoring as the other two periods but featured some penalty shots, none being sucessful. Yvon Labre acted as a ref during the last period when the players were doing too many shenanigans.
Interesting strategy for sure. pic.twitter.com/3rFoMziecp
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) June 26, 2019
When the game was over, there was the traditional handshakes between players, and then a group shot of all participants. Many attendees waited around in search of autographs and pictures with the players.
More photos from Caps Official Instagram:
(Highlights, photos, and video provided by Monumental Sports Net and the Washington Capitals.)
By Diane Doyle