Friday, November 14, 2008

Noah's Pretzels & Screeee..Oh, Sorry--Slapshot!!

Sohna and I made very rare appearance for us tonight--at Verizon Center in Downtown Washington, DC. In the 11 years the one-time called MCI Center has existed, The African Queen has been there a total of three times. SBF, just 10, and three of those were for work related events. So our venture tonight to see The Washington Capitals play The New Jersey Devils was still a novelty for us. We don't know much about hockey--but we do know that Ted Leonsis' Team has arguably the finest player in The National Hockey League--Alex Ovechkin.

Number 8's appearance was good enough for us to attend. And we had some excellent seats in Club Level, Section 216, right on the blue line facing The Capitals Bench--really nice seats. But first we had to visit one of Nationals Park's Biggest Staples during it's Inaugural Season--Dwayne Herndon from Noah's Pretzels. The makers of The Curly "W" Soft Pretzel in honor of Mr. Herndon's Son--Noah--who has autism. Dwayne and his partner, Jonathan Reed, provided a ton of fun for The African Queen and I during the Inaugural Season of Baseball on South Capital Street. So, immediately upon entering Verizon Center, we headed over to visit their New & Permanent Set-Up behind Section 112 on the main concourse. They are branching out. From their first store in Lake Forest Mall in Gaithersburg, Maryland to South Capital Street, now to F Street, NW.

And Dwayne didn't disappoint. The very moment he saw us, he came out from behind his counter to greet us. We all chatted for some time, having not seen each other since the final Nationals home game of 2008. But we did find out The Curly "W" Pretzel is a Nationals Park Exclusive and not available at Verizon Center. Too bad, Sohna and I would have loved to have seen The Curly "W" at a Caps Game.

From there, we headed up to our seats, only to run into My Best Friend!! Screee.....No--Sorry, his cousin Slapshot!! But to The Washington Capitals Mascot's GREAT CREDIT--HE KNEW WHO WE WERE!! Slapshot knew Screech was My Best Friend!! And immediately posed with The African Queen and I for the mandatory photo. We couldn't stop laughing over the possibility. Then, in the third period of tonight's game--Slapshot was kind enough to visit us. It was almost like old times in Section 320 at RFK Stadium. We were having fun. Capitals Fans Love to ROOT FOR THEIR TEAM. They ARE LOUD!! Good for them.

The Hockey Game itself was pretty good too. The Capitals won 3-1 in a closely fought game. Only an open net goal by Ovechkin in the final 30 seconds sealed the deal. But Number 8 was not the star tonight. One of his teammates may have played his finest game of the season (as far as we know), Number 14 for Washington was really impressive. Tomas Fleischmann hustled on the ice during each of his shifts. He never gave up on any puck, nearly missed on a wonderful backhand in the second period, then was rewarded with a hard slap shot close-in goal on the New Jersey Goalie late in the same period. Fleischmann was the difference maker this evening.
The same for The Capitals' Goalie--Jose Theodore--who made one incredible stop in the second period on a behind his back and across the other side of the goal attempt by The Devils' Jamie Langenbrunner. Sprawling and lunging backwards, Number 60 somehow stopped that hard piece of rubber from crossing the goal line. Theodore was pretty spectacular himself in this affair and only got beat when Washington had a terrible cross up on a line switch with nearly 8 minutes remaining in the game. A breakaway developed and Patrik Elias scored through Jose's pad for, what turned out to be, New Jersey's only tally of the night.

By the way, if we were going to a hockey game--it might as well have been a Bobblehead Night. The Washington Capitals gave out Bruce Boudreau 2007-2008 Bobbleheads to 15,000 fans this evening. Sohna and I got there early enough to receive them.

The In-Game Entertainment at Verizon Center is pretty good. The music is well thought out. There is a lot of activity to get fans involved on the overhead screen--especially "Rock The Red" Promotions. The Caps want their fans INVOLVED IN THE HOCKEY MATCH. And the graphics on the scoreboard are terrific--really well done. There is an edge to their work. Very, very interesting to experience. Sohna especially enjoyed the Little Midgets (Kids) Hockey Game between the first and second periods. And just like Our Washington Nationals with Clint--The Washington Capitals had a host. This person a young lady who interviewed various sponsors and fans throughout the game. She did a good job.

All-In-All, The African Queen and I had a good time. Hopefully, we will find the time to attend another Washington Capitals Game soon. Although the one thing we definitely noticed is that its hard to have a conversation while the teams are playing. So much happens so quickly, you have to pay attention to what's going on. If not, you might miss the best parts of the game. At Nationals Park and Baseball, there is always time between pitches, outs and innings to chat. Hockey really only allows conversation during intermission.

Finally, we still can't get over the fact that Slapshot recognized us!! And seeing Our Washington Nationals colleague Dwayne Herndon again from Noah's Pretzels made for one wonderful night at Verizon Center.

PS--Many thanks to the handful of Washington Nationals Fans and Nats320 readers at Verizon Center this evening who stopped Sohna and I to just say hello. We didn't realize baseball and hockey crossed over in their fan bases so much. The African Queen and I both appreciated your thoughts and comments.


Anonymous said...

Hockey and baseball. For a long time it seems that the two have taken a backseat in washington to the skins and wizards. But now that the caps are finally good, and baseball is back, its going to be great to watch those two sports whenever I get the chance


Anonymous said...

The thing I like to do almost as much as a Nats game and a Maryland Football game is a Caps game. Terrific fan friendly/family friendly event. What the Verizon Center has that Nats Park doesn't yet is a great neighborhood for before and after games. Plenty of bars and resturants. The wife and I went to see the Bullets play the Knicks last Friday. Went to Clydes for dinner before the game, and then over to Fado's for a pint after. Great night out. Our local 9 needs that type of venue and they need it in a hurry.

Screech's Best Friend said...

6th & D--Sohna and I said the same thing about the atmosphere outside Verizon Center before and after the game last night. It's was hopping and we fully expect Nationals Park will have something similar in a few years. If I recall, the Gallery Place/Chinatown development has happened over a 10 year period. And it's really well done, totally revitalized an aging and decaying center part of the city.

Anonymous said...

Hockey season overlaps *almost* perfectly with baseball season. I'm waiting to see if SBF catches the bug and we wind up with Caps320 as well!

Anonymous said...

Glad you got to a Caps game. I was introduced to both baseball and hockey when I was a little girl, and I discovered that box scores were great material for show and tell. As an adult, I'm fascinated by watching players keep up with something going 90+ mph -- and I like not waiting a week between games.

Jeremy said...

As a Nats partial season ticket holder and a Caps partial season ticket holder, I'm glad, SBF, to hear that you and Sohna enjoyed your experience at Verizon Center. I truly believe that Leonsis has built this franchise the right way and that if the Lerners are going to learn from anybody in this town as to how to build a loyal fanbase, they should seek out the advice of Ted. You have to admit, Caps fans are into the game from the drop of the puck to the final horn.

Anonymous said...

SBF - Hey nice jersey, do you have a Wizards jersey hidden in that closet too :-)

Take me out to the Ball Game!


Screech's Best Friend said...

Sam: Yes, but it's a Wes Unseld Bullets Vintage #41 Red, White & Blue with the Stars & Bars. One of my all time favorite jerseys.