More than 80 players from the American Special Hockey Association programs got the chance to skate with and learn from Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin during a special skating session on Tuesday at MedStar Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va. NoVa Caps’ photojournalist Joe Noyes was on hand for the event.
The event marks the sixth consecutive season Ovechkin has hosted ASHA for a skating or street hockey event. As part of the skate, participants received Ovi O’s, Ovechkin’s cereal available at Giant Food, and pizza courtesy of Papa John’s.
The skate marks one of many community initiatives in which Ovechkin is involved. In addition to supporting organizations that grant wishes of sick children, Ovechkin also participates in Ovi’s Crazy 8s.
Ovechkin created Ovi’s Crazy 8s in 2006, a program through which he purchases and donates eight Capitals season tickets to Most Valuable Kids and ASHA, allowing fans who normally wouldn’t have access to tickets the opportunity to attend games.
Also participating in today’s event was Ann Schaab. Schaab first met Ovechkin in 2014 when Ovechkin and the Capitals hosted a skating session for children from ASHA at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Schaab, who has Down syndrome, asked Ovechkin to go on a sushi date with her following a Capitals preseason game, and a friendship was born.
Created in 2000 for players with development disabilities, ASHA gives people of all ages and abilities a chance to learn and grow by playing hockey. When Ovechkin hosted the first skate in 2014, there were 50 programs across 30 cities.
ASHA continues to grow and now includes 96 programs. By the end of the season, there will be more than 100 programs in more than 90 cities across the United States. There are five ASHA teams in Washington, D.C., as well as teams in York and Hershey Pennsylvania, home to the Capitals’ AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears.
Photos by Joe Noyes