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Alumni Goalie Contestant Treks from Nashville

by Deborah Francisco / Washington Capitals

Arlington, VA -- It’s the hockey weekend of a lifetime for Capitals Alumni Goalie Contest winner Al Rooney and his 15-year-old son, Sylvain. The father-son duo trekked 700 miles from Nashville, TN just so Sylvain, a diehard Caps fan, could see his father play with Washington Capitals legends.

“It was awesome because I never got to see him play when I was younger because he stopped playing in 2004 and I was too young to ever remember,” Sylvain told “It was pretty cool to see him playing with these legends.”

Rooney, a native of Deer Park, NY, played two years of junior hockey in North Dakota and Minnesota, before playing college hockey at Buffalo State. He then signed a professional two-way contract with the Florida Panthers in 1996-97. He also attended Islanders training camp in 1997-98 and spent eight seasons total playing in the CHL and other minor leagues before officially retiring in 2004.

“My favorite moment was, I made a save, one of the few saves I made, and afterwards, Adam Oates came up to me and tapped me on the pad and said, ‘nice save keeper,’ and I look over and can see [Sylvain] sitting in the front row on the glass, and it was just a brief moment there but that was the whole reason why I made the trip,” Rooney said. “It was just for that moment right there.”

Rooney played in goal for the Red Team captained by Craig Laughlin. Rooney, who hasn’t seriously played in net since he retired in 2004, allowed four goals in the first period but the Red team battled back in the second period to tie the score and eventually won the game 6-5 in a shootout.

“(The Caps’ Alumni Game) was a good atmosphere,” Rooney said. “It's something I haven't experienced in years. You miss those moments. You miss the time in the locker room with the guys … I've crossed paths with a few of these guys in some way shape or form and it was good to be back around hockey people and experience it and to be around the pumped crowd.”

Rooney heard about the Alumni Goalie Contest through an e-mail notification and he applied on a whim since his son is such a big Capitals fan.

“I tried my hardest to raise (Slyvain) as an Islanders fan because I grew up on Long Island, but it didn't take.” Rooney explained. “Sly's been a Caps' fan for as long as I can remember. He just latched on to them.”

Rooney and his son made the long journey to Washington for the Alumni game and they will continue onto Cincinnati where the team Rooney coaches, the AAA Junior Predators, will open their season.

“It's a complete father-and-son hockey weekend,” Rooney said. “It's a lot of fun.”

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