Recently, I went with my hockey-obsessed husband and sons to attend a Washington Capitals NHL hockey practice at MedStar Capitals IcePlex (aka “The Rink on the Roof”) in Arlington, Virginia. Here are the top 5 reasons why you should put this experience on your list of places to visit!
Reason 1: Fans can get much closer to the ice
My boys spent the entire practice standing by the glass on the ice. It gave them an easier view of the players, and made them feel closer to the action. If you have younger kids, there is lots of seating in the bleacher area.
INSIDER TIP: If you have younger kids, you may want to consider bringing a low step stool for them to stand on. The glass may be a little high to see without a little help.
MOM TIP: Dress warmly and bring a hat! Temps at the ice rink are understandably cold!
Reason 2: Make a sign, and maybe get the attention of your favorite players
I want to respect the players and their right to practice without feeling the need to interact with fans. I prepped my sons (and husband) that the players needed to practice and focus, and to not to expect any attention. But my kids decided to bring a team poster and held it up to the glass. My little fans got some smiles, waves, and even a “stink-eye” from Jakub Vrana, which made their day!
Reason 3: Grit Lesson
Like many kids, if you ask my son what he wants to be when he grows up, he’ll reply, “I want to be a professional soccer player/ hockey player / baseball player.” It really depends on the sports season.
But as a parent, I want my sons to know desire means nothing without grit behind it. And seeing an elite practice gave my kids just a little taste of the hard work that it takes to be a successful player and the commitment required on a daily basis.
MOM TIP: Before going to a sports event, try finding a book about a player of interest. L* read every library book he could about the Capitals.
Reason 4: It’s the best odds to get an autograph
If you bring something to sign, you MAY get an autograph. Two of the newer Capital players, Carl Hagelin and Nick Jensen, stopped by the fans on the far right area of the ice after practice. However, it is important to remember that this is not a signing event, and autograph opportunities are not guaranteed.
As we were leaving the parking lot, we also saw a group of autograph-seekers by the player exit door. I would say that if the ice is crowded and you REALLY want an autograph, it might be worth it to wait outside too.
INSIDER TIP: As practice winds down, move to the right side of the ice next to the press box. There is a barrier partition, and people (especially kids) nearer to the front will get autographs if a player decides to come over.
HUSBAND TIP: Don’t be the person that won’t let a kid through. And NEVER be a person that steps in front a child waiting for an autograph. Just. Don’t.
Reason 5: It’s free!
You will need to pay for parking in the garage, but otherwise access to the arena is FREE! After the Caps won the Stanley Cup, ticket prices have increased. However, this experience is a wonderful way to support the team, see your favorite players, and have a unique fan experience…for free!
INSIDER TIP: There is also a wonderful gift shop with tons of Washington Capitals gear, and the morning we were there the gift shop was running a limited time sale on framed “Caps” art. These plaques retail for $60, but were on sale for $5. Yes, that’s right…$5. The practice arena shop frequently has in store promotional deals only available at that location.
The practices usually start around 10 and finish by lunchtime. Players will not leave all at once, but usually in small waves. Consider staying until the end because the day we went some of the Caps starters played an amazing 3 on 3 scrimmage at the very end of their ice time.
Since you have the rest of the day in the DC Metro area, why not stop by some of the amazing attractions in Washington DC? Our family decided to try the National Arboretum after the practice! Check out our Day Trips for Washington DC for ideas on the blog (coming soon)!