Grubauer, Oleksy Return to Verizon Center

Posted February 23, 2014

It’s an AHL game in an NHL rink! (Caps Outsider)

Sunday night, the Hershey Bears faced-off against the Syracuse Crunch for the second time in as many days. However, it was more special than just any other game, as it took place in the Verizon Center, just like last season. For several players, this was an opportunity to skate in front of the Verizon Center crowd for both the Caps and the Bears.

Although the Bears struggled most of the night and lost 5-2, they were still able to come away with the satisfaction of playing in an NHL stage again.

“It was a different experience with Hershey but it was good to be back playing for the Washington Capitals fans,” said goalie Philipp Grubauer, who had a memorable stint with Washington this season.

“Over the last year this place [The Verizon Center] felt like home, the fans showed me a lot of support and to come back here and play in front of them again was a great feeling,” said defenseman Steve Oleksy, who spent extended time in the NHL with the Caps the last two years. “It was a good feeling to be back here but it was pretty tough at the same time.”

Bears coach Mike Haviland enjoyed the trip as well. “I think its outstanding, I think its every guys dream to play in the National Hockey League and we’ve had a lot of guys up and down this year with Washington and they strive everyday to be here and to see the size of the buildings, we play in some small venues in the American League, and it’s a great thing that both leagues do for the American League teams and its a good thing for our guys to see what its takes to get to the National League.”

As for all the Bears who suited up for the Caps this season? Haviland said they “tried to get as many of them in the lineup” and the players were “trying to help them win hockey games in the National League.”

Hopefully we will be able to see these guys return to the Verizon Center again but next time suiting up for the Caps. Overall, it was a great experience for these guys even if the game didn’t end the way they wanted it.