indiana-commencement-speech

[Editor's Note: Instead of rocking the red at Verizon Center for game two on Saturday, five-year Caps season ticket holder Ilan was at his brother Eyal's graduation at Indiana University. Enjoy.]

I am a long-time hockey fan, long-time Caps fan, and season-ticket holder. My brother and I grew up playing hockey and sweating the Caps hardcore. When I was in high school, we converted our basement into an indoor rink, and while pretending we were Olaf Kolzig, Craig Berube, and Peter Bondra, we wreaked havoc to the tune of drywall crumbling and light bulbs bursting. It was awesome.

Now for the not-so-awesome: I had to miss game two. My brother actually managed to graduate college this year, and his graduation ceremony was scheduled for that Saturday in Bloomington, Indiana. I thought about skipping his graduation but I am not a douche. Instead we tried to convince our mom to let us skip the festivities of the graduation at Indiana University and fly my brother home for game 2. No dice. Then I found out the worst part: we had to be at the ceremony at 2 pm. I wanted to die.

We found our seats in the nosebleeds of the assembly hall with the score still 0-0. They didn’t have the game playing on the jumbotron, so I had to resort to my DROID, which I made sure to charge before. I found my brother sitting about two-thirds of the way back from the stage. I checked my phone and realized the third period was just underway, still 0-0.

The anxiety of not being able to watch after having been there for every home playoff game the past five years got to me. I was sweating through my shirt. I looked down at my brother during stoppages and saw my brother was also checking his phone. I looked back to mine.

Stoppage – Goalie Freezes Puck (Breathe…. Breathe….)
WAS Shot on goal – Chimera (ARGHHHH)
NYR Shot on Goal – R. Nash (HOLTBY!!!!!!)

All the while, some guy with a doctorate and Nobel Prize was teaching everyone how to be awesome. And then it happened:

WAS Penalty to Troy Brouwer – 2 mins slashing (Please no! – longest 2 minutes of my life)

I couldn’t bear it, so I rabbit-punched my sleeping dad in the shoulder until the penalty was over. Then I got this text from my brother: “OVERTIME”.

When Steve Oleksy got called two minutes for delay of game, I said “#$@*”, and I could feel 100 parents glaring at me, not to mention the six-year-old sitting behind me wearing the tool bag tie-shirt-vest combo, learning some new words. The Caps killed the penalty, and I sighed “holy #$&%”. People are staring at me angrily now, and I am not caring.

My sports app told me “penalty to Ryan McDonagh – 2 minutes for Delaying Game.” I stood up and pumped my fist, immediately scolded by parents watching the ceremony. I let them know it was okay because the Caps were on a power play. They told me to shut up. (Ungrateful.)

I was hitting the refresh button on my phone like an 8-year-old with ADHD trying to get the last bit of sugar out of a pixie stick, and then it happened. Caps 1 – NYR 0. There was no player credited with the goal yet, but I didn’t care. I woke my dad up with a slap to the face and whispered “WE #$&%ING DID IT!!!” But before I could do that, I heard a student below scream.

indiana-student-celebrates-caps-win

I looked down to the sea of black robes. I located the source of the sound and saw a spot of white.  In my sister’s crappy cell phone photo, you can clearly see my one student standing up during the commencement ceremony, ripping his robe open to reveal a white CAPS road jersey. That student was my brother, and he is awesome. Don’t you forget that. You can see him holding his phone too. He is calling me to celebrate. All the while the ceremony is still going on. Other students stood to see what had happened. They were paying as much attention to the ceremony as our sleeping father was.

We did a toast after the ceremony. It was awesome.

Note: Ilan’s letter was edited for length and celebratory profanity.

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  • CapsFan

    That story was f-ing fantastic, oh and congratulations to your brother.

  • Akay15

    Holy crap what an awesome story!

  • capsinjordan

    I feel for Ilan I had a final that started at 2 on a freaking Saturday, but I managed to duck out early and catch OT.

  • http://twitter.com/VeggieTart Danielle

    It’s hockey; surely they understand?

  • Pete

    Awesome story to read on a Monday morning!!

    I’m glad there’s a pic included, to help validate the story.

    Hopefully you don’t have any other siblings that need to graduate college after this!!

  • doeshin

    This story deserves some kind of award. Nobel peace prize you say? I remember holding my phone for it to buzz. not looking at the score. at some picnic for our kids at church with other parents. I am glad i didn’t watch. i am pretty sure my doctor would not have approved… when my phone buzzed and all i saw was WSH first on the notice instead of NYR, i SCREAMed ‘YEEEEAH’! man… keep going caps. Just Keep going…

    You brothers are awesome…

  • lrhflute

    That is beyond AMAZING!! I love this story!! :)

  • CaliCapsFan

    Next time get the Caps app and an earpiece and listen to John Walton call the game.

  • Jake

    And here I was, thinking I am the only die-hard IU Caps’ fan in Bloomington!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1532437365 Patricia Dunlap Maryniak

    I love this story. I can completely relate to it. My husband has video of me in labor during the 2010 Russia/Canada gold medal game. I was in the middle of a contraction, and I had to stop and watch a big play. My blood pressure was going too high, so they made me turn the game off.

  • OlietheGoalie

    Seriously. That’s how my dad got through church during football season.

    Great story, though.

  • OlietheGoalie

    Reminds me of the Bruins series last year. I was at a wedding during game 7. When Ward scored the clincher, I was literally stomping the ground and tries to muffle my screams while the wife was saying “I do.”

    I swear people thought I was trying to not crap my pants.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    Oh my gosh! Haha.

  • SO_CAL_Brat

    This is a great “I remember where I was when” story. I hope you guys are checking YouTube every day for the video of this. I’m sure someone in the stands has video of it. It’ll likely be labeled “Washington Capitals fan ruins my kid’s college graduation”. You guys rock!!! Coolest family ever!

  • katzistan

    Awesome story. We can all relate to having to be somewhere during an important game, hitting refresh, refresh, refresh. Lately, I’ve been using twitter, since those updates happen faster than the official scoring ones. Always look for Whyno’s handle – he’s usually the first, with something like “Ovechkin scores. Tie game.” Pisses the wife off, but whatever.

  • Byelii

    Because it’s the Cup…love it.

  • Jonathan

    I went to IU and also destroyed the shit out of my parents basement recreating Caps old school hockey. This piece is soooo close to home for me. Thanks for sharing and lets go caps (and Hoosiers!)

  • http://twitter.com/rmobrien21 R.O’B.

    and zero effs were given. LOVE THIS

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505220775 Kristen Marrs

    This is fucking awesome.

  • http://twitter.com/eric_hobeck Eric Hobeck

    Who has a wedding on a Wednesday night?

  • OlietheGoalie

    Stupid people who don’t understand work weeks.

  • http://twitter.com/mcwagner08 Mark Wagner

    Wasn’t that USA v. Canada for gold?

  • Anthony Russell

    We had a friend over for dinner Saturday night (being in Britain, we’re 5 hours ahead) and I was refreshing my phone like a madman. I saw a tweet from a friend that said “game over” and went mad as that was all it said. Hopped on the laptop, found a stream feed and watched as Mike Green powered the puck in. Made my wife and our friend jump a mile in the air. I careth not, Caps win!

  • http://www.facebook.com/carl.windhausen Carl Dubbsy Windhausen

    That’s the spirit!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=608284895 John Fitzmaurice

    Forgive her; baby brain

  • warriorinside

    Did you call your friend who tweeted a tease?

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Who has a wedding during the playoffs?

    ANSWER: ALL MY FRIENDS

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1005713165 Pat Magee

    Im glad i’m not the only one who does this at inappropriate places!!!

  • snake awesome

    Hells yeah!!

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Or you can follow @russianmachine. We might be 0.5 seconds after Whyno, but we make up for it with enthusiasm.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fewdiodave David Schneider

    That was an awesome story.

    I was in Vegas for the weekend for a friend’s wedding. I watched the regulation time of the game in the sports book of the Golden Nugget, but come overtime, I had to head back up to my room to shower and shave and get ready for the wedding.

    I’m sure my screams of joy when Green scored made anyone in the adjoining rooms think I was killing a hooker.

  • Ilan

    I can’t believe how many people have commented on our story. I am pumped that so many people enjoyed reading it. Caps fans are stupendous, simple as that. GAME THREE TONIGHT!!! LEEEEEEEEEETTTTS GOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

  • 12th Man Caps Fan

    Caps Blood runs Thick!

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    Yeah when is that btw? WE NEED TO CAUCUS.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Next Friday-Saturday. 17-18th.

  • http://twitter.com/sickunbelievabl Sick, Unbelievable

    I hope Eyal is planning on staying in Bloomington. I’m moving there, and need to establish some Caps friends.

  • yv

    Great story.
    It could be good for the site along with gifs to have audio tracks of some interesting, critical moments. I watched and heard yesterday personal video and audio recorded during MG52′ OTGWG and posted on caps b-ball blog. It showed in real-time what happened after the goal when 18+K simultaneously exploded and screamed. It is like the sound of Chelyabinsk meteor explosion and the VC roof could literally blown away because of this. Very impressive and entertaining.

  • Ben

    How did you turn your basement into a rink?

  • irockthered

    Awesome!

  • GameOverMan

    I can feel your pain dude. Here’s my abridged story. 2 months before my 21st, I get “stopped and frisked” walking home after a few beers and some NHL 13 at my friends house. I could literally see my house when the horde of cops swarmed me. I laughed out loud (seriously guys? slow night I guess), they breathalyzed and I got 6 months of probation. I have since turned 21. On top of community service AND not being able to legally drink is a mandatory “alcohol is evil” class for 6 weeks. Tonight is week 5. Class starts at game time exactly….Hopefully I’ll be able to catch some of it.

  • Chris the Pens Fan

    Thank you so much for sharing this. First let me say that I am a Penguins fan living Fairfax and I work at the Pentagon. Don’t hate me. :-) Caps and Philly fans always are giving me a hard time about it at work, but I love my Pens. What can I say? Anyway, I wanted to share how much I enjoyed this story because of how much it reminds me of my relationship with my own brother, a Caps fan. Like your brother, he too was awesome, and your story brought me to tears because I realized I wouldn’t be able to have moments like that with him again. You see, in 2009 after my Pens won their third Cup, my brother took his life after a long struggle with OCD and depression, which, sadly, tainted our Cup win. Because how could I experience joy when something so terrible happened? It’s been a long road, but hockey has always been there for me. So, I completely understand the passion you and your awesome brother have for the game. Anyway, I wanted to thank you for your story. No offense, but here’s hoping for another Cup for us this year! Thanks again!

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Oh my gosh.

    The travails of underage drinking, man. That blows.

    Be safe and get through the next week!

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Aww, Chris. I’m so sorry, but thanks for the message. That’s really terrific. Cheers.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    broke the thermostat, opened all the faucets, maybe a little dry ice?

  • http://www.facebook.com/cjwright79 Chris Wright

    I’m guessing the author is the kind of student who typically gets Cs, an odd B, and the like. This is not genteel conduct for a university. Know your audience.

  • JenniferH

    That is an AWESOME story!!!!!! LOVE IT!

  • Gersh21

    Awesome story! In a strong bit of irony, our Caps bar in NYC also happens to be a Hoosiers bar.

  • Chris the Pens Fan

    Thanks, Peter! Sorry about last night’s game. Well, sort of sorry. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/ilanb12 Ilan Breit

    Ben I am so glad you asked.

    We brought our street hockey goal inside on rainy days and put it in the 25×12 ft opening in the basement, just enough for hockey shenanigans. There were two areas where there were no walls and the ball could escape into the other room, so to keep the ball/puck/stuffed elmo head in play so we piled boxes up to close off one of the spaces and used my mom’s blue 5×8 foot gym mat (she is a P.T.). The awesome thing about the mat was that it curved to imitate the curve in a real rink so we could fling the ball around behind the net and CLOBBER whoever was playing goalie while they watched it go by. We frequently knocked the boxes down, but that was most of the fun. If anybody ever wants to play some basement hockey I’ll be wearing red.

  • Patrick Martin

    A good story. Here’s an alternative last sentence:
    “Tonight is week 5. Class starts at game time exactly….Hopefully I’ll be able to catch some of it. Class, I mean.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/claudia.vonnordheim.3 Claudia von Nordheim

    You are probably ‘wright’ regarding conduct during a commencement
    ceremony, but I don’t see how an inappropriately timed public display of
    over-exuberance equates to mediocre academic performance. It also
    seems like quite a few people enjoyed reading this story (1,600+) so I’d
    say the author/RMNB knows the audience pretty well. I am glad you
    enjoyed reading the article Chris.

  • http://www.facebook.com/claudia.vonnordheim.3 Claudia von Nordheim

    I’ve known Ilan for about 2-3 years now. We were at Rocket Bar both before and after the Tuesday night game when we clinched the SouthEast. I debated between wearing my Kuznetsov jersey or my Chimera jersey before the game and decided to go with a player who currently actually plays for the Capitals. Sure enough, he scores the 2nd goal. I was also there when he scored against the Sabres on St. Patrick’s Day. And wearing his jersey when he scored Thursday night.

    While I haven’t had the privilege of meeting Ilan’s brother, I have had the privilege of meeting Ilan a few times, and I cannot begin to express the elation he was feeling at IU.

    LET’S GO CAPS!

  • http://twitter.com/ilanb12 Ilan Breit

    actually Chris, I got into medical school this year and my brother is an A/B student. We both love hockey and value our education. Respect brotha! Try to enjoy the un-genteel moments in life for what they are. Life is short and nobody likes a saggy naggy. I am glad you enjoyed reading our story!

  • http://twitter.com/ilanb12 Ilan Breit

    thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/ilanb12 Ilan Breit

    thanks Chris, Hockey is the best, cheers to you buddy.

  • http://twitter.com/ilanb12 Ilan Breit

    haha thanks shindizzle. LEETTTTS GOOOOOO!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/ilanb12 Ilan Breit

    thats awesome!

  • Chris the Pens Fan

    Thanks, Ilan!

  • http://www.facebook.com/cjwright79 Chris Wright

    Well I’m just glad you didn’t respond to my comment with angry vitriol. +1 respect bro

  • Jason

    Thoroughly awesome. I’m a Canucks fan, but I’m pulling for the Caps now that we’re out.