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Editor’s note: Westminster, Maryland (which used to be the summer home of the Baltimore Ravens) is not a hockey hotbed. There isn’t a hockey rink in Carroll County, and Westminster High doesn’t have a hockey team. The closest rinks are in Frederick and Reisterstown. But one Caps family has bucked the trend. Samantha N. explains.

Yes, I know the idea sounds crazy. A backyard rink in Maryland? Is that even possible? You hear about the colder places being able to do so up North, but with Maryland’s bipolar weather, the chances of creating an outdoor hockey rink seems almost impossible. Well, not for our family. With the help of the polar vortex, we were able to bring hockey literally outside our front door.

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Photo credit: Justin K. Aller

Editor’s note: The Washington Capitals have lost seven straight games. Things are dire right now. But this story is why we love hockey and have the best readers in the world. Michael R., a regular commenter on the site, left this comment in our game recap. We felt compelled to share it with all of you. Take it away, Michael.

Normally, when I go to games, for financial reasons, I get seats in the upper level. But for Alex Semin’s first game back in a non-Capitals uniform (a few years ago), I wanted to sit close, so I sprung for lower level tickets, row C, by the faceoff circle of the Caps-shoot-twice end, on the penalty-box side. With 30 seconds left in the game, the Caps held a 3-0 lead. Most of the fans were packing up their belongings, not paying close attention to the game. Suddenly (and I’m still not sure how this happened), the puck came over the glass fast, and hit an approximately 12-year-old boy sitting in front if me. He was woozy, his mother was (understandably) freaking out, and myself and others nearby were trying to get the attention of ushers/Verizon Center medical staff.

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The Story Behind This Braden Holtby Selfie

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Editor’s Note: RMNB reader Lily P. went to Washington Capitals practice a few days before the NHL’s Christmas break. Instead of asking a player for an autograph or a photo with them, she went high concept. Here is her story.

After wanting to go for a very, very long time, I finally went to a Caps practice at Kettler on December 23rd. I had a very special experience. One of my favorite players is Braden Holtby and I really wanted to meet him. He was practically the last guy on the ice that day but as he started making his way towards the locker room, he turned and walked back towards the fence where I was after a few kids shouted his name.

Despite looking absolutely exhausted, Braden signed a whole bunch of autographs. I was really close in line petrified, not knowing what to do.

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The gang. (Photo credit: @zoharfilm)

Editor’s note: The Washington Capitals fan base is a tight bunch. We have both super fans and normal people, but everybody comes together to watch the team blow a late lead. It’s a nice community like that. Recently, a few of those superfans shot a commercial for a local wine shop. We’ll let Nathan from the Brouwer Rangers take it away.

On a chilly, drizzly night in December, unbeknownst to all but a few fortunate souls, magic was happening behind the locked doors of an Arlington storefront. On Tuesday, that magic was revealed to the world in the form of this commercial for Arrowine, a local fine food and adult-beverage store. Give it a look. We’ll wait.

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Editor’s Note: This is what it’s all about. 8-year-old AJ was made a Caps fan for life on Friday night. His father, Dave G. gives us a fan’s perspective of Ovi’s historic goal, one fan’s kind deed, and a terrific annotated video of how it went down.

I took my 8-year-old son AJ to his first NHL game last night in Raleigh (we live down near Wilmington, NC). Having grown up in Southern Maryland, I spent a good chunk of my boyhood years at the USAir Arena cheering on the Caps, but this was my first game in a long time.

I wanted to share our pictures and video with you.

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troy-brouwer

[Editor's Note: Though he's one of the best players in the world, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is also a normal guy who likes to take in a movie every now and then. That's how RMNB reader Mahesh P. came to run into him and have a night he'll remember forever. Let's turn it over to Mahesh.]

My brother and I found out that Troy Brouwer would be at Tysons Corner Mall a few Thursdays ago, so we decided to go meet him. We were indeed successful in meeting him and he seemed like a really nice guy. I told him that I really like the way the 2nd line is playing right now and that they are cycling the puck really well, which he agreed with obviously. I also mentioned that I really like when Oates puts Fehr in the top 6. To this, Brouwer said “I agree, I think Fehr is really good because he plays well.” So, I would call that a successful meeting.

As amazing as the night had already been, it did not end there.

My brother and I decided to go to see the new Hunger Games movie in the same mall after meeting Brouwer. We debated whether or not to buy the tickets on our phone before dinner so that we wouldn’t have to stand in line at the box office. For the rest of my life, I will be thankful that we decided not to buy the tickets in advance.

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Photo credit: Geoff Burke

The Washington Capitals lost to the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 at Verizon Center on Friday. Despite the loss, Caps fans in attendance got a real treat; they were in the presence of The Great One, Wayne Gretzky.

Gretzky was a guest of Ted Leonsis, watching the game in the owner’s box. CSN was the first outlet to point out that Gretzky was in attendance, cutting to a shot of him during the first period. As word spread among fans in Verizon Center, a throng of people started amassing aroud the box.

Gretzky, who is constantly harangued for autographs and photos, signed for fans during most of the intermission. He also took photos. And he looked thrilled doing so.

During the third period, Caps PA Announcer Wes Johnson officially announced that Gretzky was in the house. The Great One received a standing ovation, delaying the game for a minute.

RMNB readers have shared with us their photos and stories of meeting 99. (Make sure to read what James wrote. Apparently Gretzky signed a beer can. I would pay unlimited monies to have this.)

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The Story Behind The Guy with the Ovechkin Beard

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Eric with one of his awards

Eric with one of his awards.

Ed. note: During Sunday night’s game in Colorado, CSN’s cameras found a Caps fan with a stunning Ovechkin-themed beard. It was surreal. We wrote about it. We asked the man behind the beard what could drives him to turn facial hair into art.

My name is Eric Brooks, a 24-year-old Washington Capitals fan from Rockville, now living in Fort Collins, Colorado. I am the president of the Rocky Mountain Beard and Moustache Club, a national beard and mustache competitor, and an illustrator and assistant brewer at Black Bottle Brewery.

So, about the beard. It all began 2 yeards (beard years) ago. One summer, I was introduced to a TV show called Whisker Wars, which highlighted a group of different individuals who competed in facial hair competitions around the world. This was something I had never heard of before and it really intrigued me. I decided to put down the razor for a while and see if I had any shot at this.

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Photo credit: @ChrisAltice

Editor’s Note: You may know Navy veteran Chris Altice from the 10-part Emmy-winning series “Carrier.” Altice served in the Navy from 2003-2007 and was stationed with VFA-14 Tophatters in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Today he writes to us to explain why he — as a huge Washington Capitals fan — made a humbling drive to Pittsburgh in a car with Lemieux plates.

There comes a time in every man’s life where he has to do something he doesn’t want to do. Where the unthinkable eventually becomes a reality, and you just have to swallow your pride, and take one for the team.

For me, that day was September 26th. In this case, it was for my family.

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Caps Players Signed One of Those Awful Toasters

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Photo credit: Amanda H.

[Editor's note: When Washington Capitals fan Amanda H. went to the Caps Season Ticket Holder party at Six Flags last year, she had Martin Erat sign a photo of Filip Forsberg. This year, she one-upped herself. We'll let her explain.]

Martin Erat signs the toaster (Photo credit: Amanda H.)

Martin Erat signs the toaster (Photo credit: @Komissarov95)

I had debated for a few days what I should get signed at the season ticket holder party. I have a ton of Caps stuff, but nothing really stood out to me, until about twenty minutes before I had to leave. Long forgotten due to the poor toast it makes (No, seriously it’s very bad toast, I have yet to find a setting that toasts most of the bread without burning the other half), my Capitals toaster sat on a shelf, not having been used in months.

Images of walking around an amusement park carrying a toaster danced in my head. It was too amusing to turn down. I have a suspicion those events might be slightly tedious so I felt like this might spice things up. At the very least it’d give me something to say to the players instead of just awkwardly standing in silence. I cleaned it up a little and tested to make sure the sharpie would actually stick. It did!

When my friend Alyssa and I arrived in the parking lot, I had a moment of doubt. Am I really going to go get a toaster signed? Why didn’t I clean it thoroughly beforehand? I figured that either way, this would be a great story and probably worth the effort. I went through security and the bag check. The guy checking my bag thought my toaster was pretty cool.

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