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Posted On Thursday, 03.10.2011 / 8:56 PM

By Bob Condor -  NHL.com Editor-in-Chief /NHL.com - NHL on Capitol Hill

Kerry named No. 2 star, talks Bruins, big charity check

It's over at Verizon Center. The Lobbyists won a late goal by defenseman Christian Gullet, who executed a tight rush on Lawmaker goalie Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY). The Lobbyists added an empty-netter to make the final 5-3 in the third annual Congressional Hockey Challenge.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) was named the game's No. 2 star and said he enjoyed his night so much that he is encouraged enough to maybe start playing in adult league more regularly. "There's just something about the game," he said at center ice at game end. "It gets the blood going."

Washington owner Ted Leonsis, who welcomed the crowd of more than 2,500 before Caps stalwart Mike Knuble dropped the ceremonial puck, said he sees Kerry regularly when the Senator's hometown Bruins are in town. Kerry told NHL.com he also likes to see Penguins games--his wife being a Pittsburgher--and that he has to admit the Capitals look like a Cup contender this season. He stills likes Boston's prospects because "they play like a team" every shift.

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), who leads the Congressional Hockey Caucus, looked fresh on his final shifts and helped with forechecking pressure that led to the Lawmakers' tying goal. He was asked about any disappoint with the loss, which featured 30 shots on goal for both teams.

"Well, the Commissioner (Bettman) was on the bench for a disputed goal (the Lobbyists scored with one second left in the second period)," said Quigley, curling into a bit of a smile. "I don't see why he couldn't throw it up to Toronto for review."

The biggest smiles of the night came when Kerry announced post-game that this friendly game raised more than $100,000 for the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club and the Fort Dupont Ice Arena, helping to provide more access to hockey among all kids in the D.C. area. That issue of attracting boys and girls to youth hockey--and upping the access--is how the day started on Capitol Hill.
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Posted On Thursday, 03.10.2011 / 7:33 PM

By Bob Condor -  NHL.com Editor-in-Chief /NHL.com - NHL on Capitol Hill

Congress in session -- on ice

In the third annual Congressional Hockey Challenge, the Lawmakers opened up the scoring. The Lobbyists answered with two goals.

In between the two Lobbyist scores, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) made two big close-in saves to make it close.

After a give-and-take 14-plus minutes, the Lobbyists scored a buzzer-beater at 14:59 to make it 3-1.

Lawmakers co-coach and NHL Network Kevin Weekes insisted his team's "energy was good" and would ready for a third-period rally.

Sen. John Kerry played several solid shifts after cutting his warmups short to talk with Commissioner Gary Bettman on the NHL Hour radio show.

The Lawmakers bench enjoyed a first-period surprise appearnce from Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane, who is in town with his Stanley Cup champion teammates to meet President Obama at the White House Friday and play the Capitals here at Verizon Center Sunday.

Five minutes left in third period, the Lawmakers have stormed back with two goals. The tying goal was set up by Kerry.

Guess Weekes knew what he was talking about.
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Posted On Thursday, 03.10.2011 / 5:39 PM

By Bob Condor -  NHL.com Editor-in-Chief /NHL.com - NHL on Capitol Hill

Congressional briefing serves up all-American stats

 The overall theme of Thursday's Congressional Hockey Caucus policy briefing at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill was the blueprint for continuing the growth of youth hockey–and access to youth hockey–in the U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), who founded the Congressional Hockey Caucus in 2009, said he attended a Chicago street hockey staged by the Blackhawks and Chicago Boys and Girls Club that attracted more than 300 kids. 

NHL Commissioner noted the Nashville Predators, playing in "what some might call non-traditional markets" now regularly play a lineup with a defenseman who was born and developed in California (Jonathon Blum) and a left wing born in Florida and grown into a NHL-caliber player in the Nashville area (Blake Geoffrion). He added that 146 Americans were in NHL lineups on opening night this season, representing more than 20 percent of all players.

Congressional Hockey Caucus co-leader Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) talked about the explosion of hockey dreams in Omaha, explaining nothing "is more romantic in sports than a frozen pond." He was on the Omaha city council when the University of Nebraska-Omaha first proposed to start a Division I hockey program, assigned as the "leader in getting ice" for the now thriving UNO team.

Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine told compelling stories about first learning to skate in the St. Louis area–but only after trying as a tyke on double-runners, feeling completely frustrated and throwing his skates in a closet for a year. He tried again and eventually started playing at an organized level when his family moved to Michigan when he was seven years old.

LaFontaine mentioned that Rep. Brian Higgins (D.-NY), the third co-leader of the Congressional Hockey Caucus, grew up with Patrick Kane's father. When the Blackhawks star was young, the elder Kane took Pat to a local outdoor rink once each week when the ice was good enough for skating. During Kane's youth, his dad and others lobbied to put a dome on the rink so kids could skate there more frequently and with better ice conditions. 

"I was talking to the Congressman (Higgins) last night," said LaFontaine. "I said, if not for that dome, maybe Rep. Quigley (a self-proclaimed Blackhawks) wouldn't be standing up here this morning talking about the team as Stanley Cup champions."
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Posted On Thursday, 03.10.2011 / 2:49 PM

By Bob Condor -  NHL.com Editor-in-Chief /NHL.com - NHL on Capitol Hill

Pre-game chatter

Scoops from the pre-game chatter about Thursday night's third annual Congressional Hockey Challenge at Verizon Center. The game is a rubber match of sorts; the Lawmakers won the inaugural 2009 game and the Lobbyists rallied for a vicory last year.

"We're going to get into the goalie's head (referring to Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-NY)," said Pat LaFontaine, the NHL Hall of Famer who will be coaching the Lobbyists squad. "I will have something to say to him early."

Word is last night's private reception yielded some, ahem, confident words from the lawmakers. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes are coaching the Lawmakers.
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Posted On Thursday, 03.10.2011 / 9:41 AM

By Bob Condor -  NHL.com Editor-in-Chief /NHL.com - NHL on Capitol Hill

Busy day for NHL, Congressmen

For six members of the U.S. Congress, Thursday figures to be the usual full day when the Legislature is in session. But there is, let's say, potential for a more taxing day than most. That's because Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and five U.S. Representatives are all playing in Thursday night's third annual Congressional Hockey Challenge at 6 p.m. A team of Congressional members and staffers will face off against a squad of lobbyists.

Both teams have been practicing for the big night. Anyone who know adult league hockey knows there will be some serious shifts in the proceedings along with both fun and labored breathing. The public is welcome. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and there is a suggested $10 donation at the door. Proceeds go to the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club and Fort Dupont Ice Arena.

But first Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY) will be co-hosting, along with Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), the Congressional Hockey Caucus Policy Briefing on Capitol Hill at the Rayburn House Office Building. Quigley and Higgins, who will both line up tonight, will speak along with Terry. Invited speakers include NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (who will host NHL Hour from the Verizon Center at his usual 6 p.m. Thursday time slot on NHL.com and XM Radio), NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine, NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes, Michael Kanters, Ph.D., North Carolina State University, Joe Bowser, Hockey is for Everyone ambassador and Kirk Bauer, president of Disabled Sports USA.

Quigley founded the Caucus after winning a special election for the Chicago north side seat formerly held by Rahm Emanuel, who, of course, went on to become President Obama's chief of staff and recently elected mayor of Chicago. The purpose of the Caucus is to promote youth hockey, plus provide hockey equipment for recreational and therapeutic Wounded Warriors programs for injured military personnel.

Other members of Congress playing tonight include Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) and Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.), who was an NHL official for two seasons.

-- Bob Condor
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