Megan D. and Colleen B. hold up their signs proudly.
During Saturday night’s Washington Capitals-Columbus Blue Jackets game, CSN cut to two Caps fans holding oversized photos of Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin. It was a memorable part of the game and a fine tribute to one of the best play-by-play tandems in the league. I was intrigued: who were these young ladies?
Earlier in the day, one of the sign holders, Colleen B. (the one holding the Beninati sign) tweeted to RMNB a photo of their creations. I followed up, and now we know. The story goes like this. The other girl in the photo is Megan D. The two are long-time friends from Osbourn Park High School in Manassas, Virginia, where they both played on the school’s field hockey team. The Washington Capitals was a big factor in their friendship.
The two would often go to each other’s houses to watch games. That bond led to visits to Kettler Capitals Iceplex, where they’d watch practices and get autographs from the players. They’ve gone to Development Camps together. They’ve randomly shared an elevator with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov after meeting them. But they had never been to Verizon Center for a Caps game together.
The two graduated from high school, but remained close friends despite going to different colleges. Colleen goes to Virginia Tech in Southern Virginia, and Megan is up in Flyers country at Villanova.
This weekend, Colleen’s parents just happened to have four lower-level tickets to the game, so naturally they invited their daughter and Megan, who was home for the weekend. The two would finally catch a game together.
They started scheming.
I’ll let Colleen explain. She emailed this to me Saturday night.
Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin hold a special place in the hearts of all true Caps fans. They are also arguably the most consistent players in the Washington Capitals franchise. Because of this, we wanted to make signs for our fist game together at Verizon Center. And there was no question it should involve these two iconic men. We also knew there was no chance of them being healthy scratches (unlike our first idea: it involved the letter “J” and a giant beagle head).
The signs were made completely from scratch. Forget Fedex Kinkos, they were pure elbow grease, glue stick, and a ridiculous amount of colored ink. During warm-ups the signs were met with overwhelming approval from Caps fans and a hearty chuckle from Steve Olesky. We knew then it was going to be a good night.
However, tragedy struck early when Megan went to get snacks and I dropped my sign into the depths of Verizon Center hell, aka in the bleachers in the second row. After spending the first period trying to get our hands on it we were relieved with help from the Verizon Center staff, namely Bob Trimble, who literally crawled under the bleachers to rescue Joe B. With the poster back in the right hands, it was time to Bailamos. I find it hard to believe it was just consequence that once the Joe B. head was back in his proper seat we scored two goals…and then two more.
To makes things even better, we found ourselves sitting in the presence of none other than “Eagle Mask Guy.” Plot Twist, he’s Australian, but other than that our lips are sealed on his identity. Our whole section (love ya, 101) was a great crowd to be a part of and we enjoyed all the twitter action from our TV coverage.
As for the fate of the signs, the Joe B head returned to the depths of the bleachers during the confusion of the “Chickfila: Spot the Cow game” and mysteriously the scoring came to an end too. Thankfully the Locker head returned home safe and sound. It is only a matter of time before Joe B. is recreated and we all return to the Verizon Center better and louder than ever! Unleash the fury, Joe and Craig forever.
When I asked Megan what the experience was like one day later, she was so thankful and excited for their 15 minutes of fame. “Honestly, we loved it,” she said in an email. “Our friends were texting and tweeting at us all night. I’m just glad Craig and Joe got to see it.”
They sure did. Two of the hardest working and most under-appreciated guys in hockey loved it.
GIF by Ian Oland