Female Fans Slip Behind the Curtain at Caps 2013 Hockey ‘N Heels

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Posted February 19, 2013
Wojtek Wolski coaches a participant at Hockey N Heels 2013.

Wojtek Wolski coaches a participant at Hockey N Heels 2013. (All Photos Credit: M. Richter).

Despite a return to Kettler Capitals Iceplex, Hockey ‘N Heels managed to keep the feeling of “Behind the Scenes” that made last spring’s event at Verizon Center so exciting.

A bit of context, for those who missed last year’s event: the title “Hockey ‘N Heels” can be a bit misleading.  While hockey is definitely involved, attendees are clad in jeans and jerseys rather than cocktail party attire.  HNH is normally a semi-annual event put on by the Capitals female-focused outreach branch, Club Scarlet (members will be happy to learn that it’s going to be getting another overhaul soon, now that things are settling down at Monumental Entertainment).  It’s three hours of educational demonstrations from players and coaches about different aspects of the sport.  There are traditionally either two or four on-ice coaching sessions (depending on the location), followed by classroom sessions.

Two fans receive face-off tips from Assistant Coach Calle Johansson at the 2013 Hockey 'N Heels.

Two fans receive face-off tips from Assistant Coach Calle Johansson at the 2013 Hockey ‘N Heels.

Tomas Kundratek practices passing.

Tomas Kundratek worked on passing, paired up with Craig Laughlin.

This year, content ranged from tips on winning a face-off (Assistant Coach Calle Johansson) to the subtleties of tape review (Video Coach Brett Leonhardt) and proper core muscle utilization (Strength & Conditioning Coach Mark Nemish).  Summer acquisitions Joey Crabb and Wojtek Wolski, along with NHL rookie Tomas Kundratek, also lent their talents to the ice.  Forward Jay Beagle took a somewhat different role, posing for photographs with attendees.

Brock Myles demonstrates the repair of a sock that he bemoaned as being much less sturdy than its less-high-tech predecessors.

Brock Myles demonstrates the repair of a hockey sock, after bemoaning that it was much less sturdy than its less-high-tech predecessors.

The photo op was one of two carryovers from last January’s Verizon Center experiment.  The other was a session with Capitals Equipment Manager Brock Myles, held in the Capitals locker room.  This time around, he took the opportunity to demonstrate some of the quick-fixes of his trade – skate blade replacement in under 30 seconds and hockey sock repair.  He also detailed the preparation work required to accommodate sudden roster changes, due to either trade or call-up, and the steps that he and his staff take to keep gear from deteriorating faster than necessary.

Attendees received a glass mug embossed with the Scarlet Caps logo, the HNH equivalent of a goody-bag.

Attendees received a glass mug embossed with the Scarlet Caps logo, the HNH equivalent of a goody-bag.

In keeping with tradition, attendees at HNH ended the night with a Club Scarlet-themed gift.  In prior years, giveaways have included shirts, tote-bags, stainless steel water bottles, and reusable cold drink cups.  This year, Valentine’s Day was reflected in the contents of the glass mugs awaiting the women at the end of the night.  Not only did the mugs contain chocolate – an assortment of miniature candies, including Reese’s, M&M’s, and Almond Joy – but they included a coupon from Club Scarlet’s latest partner, the Red Door Spa.

It’s easy to brush off Club Scarlet as catering to the so-called pink jersey brigade, but in fact they do quite the opposite.  CS events offer a refreshing opportunity for female fans to meet each and share their love of hockey without worrying about being pigeonholed before opening their mouths.

Evidence of the event’s success can be seen in the number of repeat attendees in the crowd at Kettler tonight.  Many women were on their third or fourth HNH, and others had been trying unsuccessfully to snag tickets for years.  Some were novices to the sport, but there was the odd player in the crowd as well – including one woman with collegiate hockey on her resume.  While the 2011-2012 HNH session still hold the records for fastest sell-out, that’s in part due to technical difficulties with the site this time around (the window for purchase last week was closer to 30 minutes than 2011-12’s 10 minutes).

HNH attendees listen attentively to a discussion about equipment maintenance in the Capitals locker room.

HNH attendees listen attentively to a discussion about equipment maintenance in the Capitals’ locker room at Kettler.

Due to the lockout, this will be the only Hockey ‘N Heels this season.  Next year, the twice-a-year schedule should resume, though no word yet on whether they’ll be holding it at Verizon Center or Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

M. Richter

M. Richter

Associate Editor at Capitals Outsider
Em is a fan of hockey first and individual teams second, with geographical ties that cross the NHL. She was born in the Midwest, raised along the East Coast, and graduated from a university in Western Canada. A firm believer in context above all else, and a card-carrying on-ice official with USA Hockey, she splits her time between the big picture and the details. When not covering the AHL and ECHL for Caps Outsider, her photography can be found on Behance and Flickr. She also occasionally chimes in about the Hershey Bears on the Power Play Post Show.
M. Richter

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