Adventures in Filming the OvechTrick Commercial

Posted January 4, 2011

Capitals Outsider participated in another commercial shoot, this one featuring Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, John Carlson and announcer Wes Johnson in an ad for Verizon Wireless, which aired during the Winter Classic.

With game footage playing on the big screen as entertainment, the red rockin’ crowd – rounded up by Carlyn Davis Casting – pretended they were watching a play develop, then celebrated a goal by cheering and throwing popcorn. Johnson performed his lines in his normal spot behind the glass, with the crowd cheering behind him.

The biggest thrill, perhaps, went to the four folks picked to skate alongside the Capitals (one goalie, two defensemen and a referee). They included Jerry Moxley, captain of the beer league team Panic at The Gardens Ice House, in Laurel, Md. Moxley was the defenseman who got to ‘cover’ Ovechkin as he skated up and took a shot, and wrote all about it for Russian Machine Never Breaks. The other defenseman was Mike Shwedick, 24, who co-wrote and produced the famous Caps Rap video. Schwedick wrote up his account of the day:

I was called in late November about being an extra for a commercial being shot at Verizon. A few days before the shoot they called needing a hockey player and had seen on my resume that I was one. They told me that I needed to go to a fitting  at the Hotel Monaco the day before the shoot and more details would come.

I headed to the hotel across from Verizon Center. I was headed to the game that night anyway so it worked out well. After trying on St.Louis Blues and L.A. Kings equipment I was told I would be on the ice with Carlson, Green, Ovechkin and Backstrom.

Obviously I was extremely pumped and in total disbelief. I immediately began to worry about my hockey “skill” since I would be on the ice with some of the best in the world . But I put my faith in the magic of editing and let it go.

I arrived at the shoot at Verizon Center the next morning at 9 a.m. I was in the “dressing room” with Wes Johnson for a bit and the three other skaters. This included a referee, a goalie and my defensive partner.

After a lot of waiting and eating at the amazing food table we were told to hit the ice around 1:30. We went out to skate and warm up. To skate on the ice at Verizon Center was pretty awesome. Looking up as I was skating around and sitting on the home bench was pretty special.

After warming up I decided to sit on the home bench and relax. Then I heard, “They’re here.” I turned to my left and Alex Ovechkin walked out of the locker room and stood next to me. He extended his hand and said “Hi, I’m Alex.”  I introduced myself but wanted to laugh at the introduction. Of course your Alex! It shows how down to earth these guys really are. Carlson and Backstrom came out and also introduced themselves each time making sure to take their hand out of their glove and shake. Later on, Green came and hit the ice.

We had a quick meeting of what was to happen in the commercial and then took our places. I told the other defensemen (Moxley) he should be the one to “guard” Ovechkin. He was much taller then me and it would look better. And quite honestly I didn’t want to take an Ovechkin wrist shot to the shin.

So that left Backstrom and me. I was to skate with Backstrom and “tie him up” until the goal. I didn’t know what speed or intensity to expect the first time so I took it very easy. Well, my mistake. Backstrom came full speed at me and almost knocked me over. I say full speed but for him it was probably first gear. He could tell I was surprised and that I had almost fallen over. He smiled at me as they yelled “CUT.”
The director told me to make it more realistic and actually try and defend him. If you can’t picture the situation just try and remember Jason Doig trying to defend against Peter Forsberg… but way worse.

So I did. I ramped up the intensity and tied up Backstrom each time. He went right a long with it and I hope it looked good.

The first shoot was basically Ovechkin coming down and scoring. It was an unbelievable feeling each take. I was tied up with Nicklas Backstrom then Ovechkin would blow by me and score. The siren and lights would go off and the hundreds of extras would scream and cheer. We did this many times and each time it felt like I was in the NHL and was another victim of an Ovechkin goal. Pretty amazing feeling.
The most ridiculous part of the day was during the breaks. We would have long breaks where they would review footage and work with the extras. We were all just standing around except Ovechkin. You can tell how much he loves the game because every chance he got, he played with the puck. And then at one moment he passed the puck… to me. I tried to act like this was no big deal and I could match up. I passed it back and then before I knew it all of the Caps and extras were passing the puck around.

The goalie then went into the net and a little mini-game broke out. At first, I removed myself from the game. I thought “I’ll let these guys play, they don’t want some idiot getting in their way trying to play.” But they kept getting us involved. I went at half speed not trying to look foolish. As I went for the loose puck Mike Green slashed me (not hard of course) and stole it from me.  He smiled and I laughed. Then I realized, these guys just want to play. We all got into it – passing and shooting around with each other. Carlson was screening the goalie and making fun of the “Pronger penalty.”

We finished up the shoot with another scenario in which the Caps were on the powerplay. I had the job of staying in between Green and Nicky during that time.
Throughout the day we met and talked with Stretch (Brett Leonhardt) and Nate (Ewell) along with the Caps Red Line folks. We got to play on the Verizon Center ice for a long time (we were out for more then four hours) and of course we met some of our favorite players.

I’ve always had a good experience meeting the Caps players especially the current bunch. But being out in this situation proved again how down to earth they are, how humble they are and how much they truly love the game of hockey.

Late in the afternoon, many of the extras were told they could step aside so the union folks could get their hours. This was the part when they shot scenes that didn’t make the final cut. At one point, the ice was littered with fur hats, and Ovechkin skated up, picked one up, put it on, and saluted the crowd. Perhaps they’ll use that footage in a future commercial as they continue to promote ‘The OvechTrick.’