ARLINGTON, Va. - More than 60 children and adolescents from American Special Hockey Association programs skated with Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin during a skating session on Oct. 21 at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va.
The event marked the third consecutive season Ovechkin has hosted ASHA for a skating session at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. During the first skate in 2014, Ovechkin met 11-year-old Washington Ice Dogs player Ann Schaab and granted her request for a sushi date following a preseason game. Inspired by his relationship with Schaab, Ovechkin announced his plans to donate the car to ASHA during the National Hockey League's 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend.
Ovechkin and Schaab's friendship inspired the character Ann in the children's book Drop the Puck, Let's Play Hockey by Jayne J. Jones Beehler. Prior to the skate Schaab presented Ovechkin with a copy of the book in the Capitals locker room. Proceeds from book sales through Nov. 7 will benefit ASHA. The book is available for purchase online at http://www.officialadventures.org/.
Following the event, ASHA president Mike Hickey presented Ovechkin with the 2016 Inspiration Award in honor of Ovechkin's commitment to the organization.
The skate marked one of many community initiatives Ovechkin will support throughout the 2016-17 season, including Ovi's Crazy 8s. Ovechkin created Ovi's Crazy 8s in 2006, a program through which he purchases and donates eight Capitals season tickets to Most Valuable Kids and ASHA, allowing fans who normally wouldn't have access to tickets the opportunity to attend games. Ovechkin also supports organizations that grant wishes of sick children. In 2015, Washingtonian Magazine named Ovechkin as a 'Washingtonian of the Year' for his efforts in the community, including his relationship with ASHA. He also was a finalist for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership award, presented to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice.
Created in 2000 for players with development disabilities, ASHA gives people of all ages and abilities a chance to learn and grow by playing hockey. There are currently more than 60 ASHA programs in more than 54 cities throughout the United States. Programs skating with Ovechkin on Oct. 12 include the Baltimore Saints, Montgomery Cheetahs, Nova Cool Cats and Washington Ice Dogs, with participants ranging from ages eight through 30.