ARLINGTON, Va. – During a recent afternoon in Crestwood Elementary School's gymnasium, students were joined in a hockey scrimmage by special guests from the Washington Capitals.
The matchup, featuring assistant coach Blaine Forsythe and alumnus Nelson Burton, followed an hour-long Hockey School assembly attended by 230 fourth- through sixth-grade students.
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Hockey School is a free program, designed to be both instructional and interactive, with the goal of exposing students to floor hockey while teaching proper technique.
Prior to joining the Springfield, Va., students in a scrimmage, Forsythe and Burton demonstrated skills and helped students practice techniques including stickhandling, passing and shooting.
Forsythe is in his seventh year with Washington and his fourth as an assistant coach. Burton, a former Capitals left wing, played with the team from 1977-1979.
“The enthusiasm was top notch and the skills were pretty good.” Forsythe said. “Some of the kids really could handle the ball right away without a lot of teaching.”
At the conclusion of the assembly the Capitals donated a set of hockey equipment and a Capitals Hockey School banner to Crestwood Elementary, while each student received a hockey 101 booklet and a squishy puck.
Physical education teacher Jenna Makharita said she and her students look forward to using the new equipment.
“Being able to keep the equipment is so exciting,” she said. “I have kids asking if we are going to play hockey today so I’m going to have to get that on the schedule pretty soon.”
The assembly marked the ninth program of the 2012-13 academic year. The Capitals host two Hockey School visits each month between September and May and donate street hockey equipment to each participating school.
“It is a lot of fun for us to be here and to see the kids,” Forsyth said following the assembly. “Hockey School is really important – you can just see it by the looks on their faces.”