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Backstrom, Nylander and Evason bring Hockey School to Swanson Middle School

by Staff Writer / Washington Capitals
Washington Capitals forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Michael Nylander and assistant coach Dean Evason brought the Caps Hockey School program to Swanson Middle School in Arlington, Va., on Jan. 11. A new community-relations initiative launched this season by the Capitals, Hockey School brings instructional floor hockey sessions to local middle school students.

After being introduced to the 80 sixth-grade students in attendance, Evason opened Hockey School by having Backstrom and Nylander talk about themselves and how they started playing hockey. Evason then moderated a question-and-answer session. Topics ranged from the players favorite things to a brief discussion on whether or not Alex Ovechkin would get a replacement tooth. One of the Swanson students could speak Swedish, so Backstrom and Nylander were able to answer a few questions in their native language.

After the students’ questions had been answered, Evason led a skills session focusing on stickhandling, passing and shooting. Backstrom and Nylander demonstrated the drills, then students were called up to put their own skills to the test. Following the shooting drill, Evason divided the students into two sections – one designated to Backstrom and one to Nylander. The Caps players then competed against one another in a shooting challenge, with their respective teams cheering loudly for them. After Nylander defeated Backstrom in the shooting drill, students were able to participate with the Caps players and their teachers in a series of scrimmages.

“This was a lot of fun,” said Backstrom. “It’s great to see all of these kids playing hockey in school,” added Nylander.

Before leaving, the Capitals announced that the equipment used during the Hockey School session would be donated to Swanson Middle School. This equipment included sticks, goalie pads, goalie masks, goalie sticks, catchers, blockers, chest protectors, balls and goals. The donated equipment will allow the students to practice what they learned about floor hockey during future physical education classes.

All students who participated in the session received autographs from Backstrom and Nylander as well as squishy pucks to designate them as graduates of Hockey School.

This season Hockey School is targeted for middle schools in Arlington Public Schools. With the success of the initiative, Hockey School is intended to expand into additional Washington, D.C., metropolitan area middle schools in seasons to come. Hockey School is designed to be both instructional and interactive, with the goal of exposing students to hockey and teaching proper technique.

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