A Night the Metro Maple Leafs Will Never Forget
Maryland youth hockey team had the experience of a lifetime when they visited Capital One Arena Monday nightby Taryn Bray @tarynbray / WashingtonCaps.com
A few weeks ago, not many people knew the members of the Metro Maple Leafs, but now people all over the country know the story of a youth hockey team that stood up for their teammate Divyne Apollon II when he was being bullied with racial taunts during a game.
The team attended Monday night's matchup against the Blues after being personally invited by John Carlson and Devante Smith-Pelly and it was a night they'll never forget.
They weren't expecting to be invited to a Caps game, let alone become a national news story but their bravery has stood out and made a difference.
"People all over the country, all over the world saw our story and have said they go through the same stuff," Divyne Apollon Senior said. "It's refreshing for people to talk about it and let it out."
After the conclusion of the game, the team took a tour of the locker room where they were greeted by numerous Caps players.
Captain Alex Ovechkin made a surprise visit to the team in the locker room where he gave Divyne one of his hockey sticks.
"It's pretty cool I got Ovi's stick and signature," Divyne said. "He's my favorite Caps player."
Players one by one stopped by to talk to the team where they shared words of encouragement, some laughs and took pictures to frame.
Meeting Caps players was never something they thought would happen prior to a couple weeks ago and although it's unfortunate a horrible incident had to occur for this to happen, they're taking it in stride.
"They were super excited when they found out," said Maple Leafs Coach Brad Howington. "They're all Caps fans, they had so much fun."
The two players who directly reached out, Smith-Pelly and Carlson made sure to let the team know how important what they did was.
"We're family," said one teammate. "It was the right thing to do."
Since the story about the Maple Leafs came out last week, the outpouring of support from the hockey community not only in just the DC area, has been awe inspiring.
"Being here they realize people do care and this message is getting out there," Howington said.
Some more photos of the night: