WASHINGTON -- Neveah Burgett unbuckled the seat belt of the ice resurfacing machine after it left a glistening sheet in Capital One Arena Friday night and gave her mother a huge hug.
"My face hurts," Neveah told her mother, Akisha Burgett, "from smiling so much."
Neveah, 12, had a pregame ride on the resurfacing machine, representing the Black Girl Hockey Club, which used the game between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers for its first meetup of the season.
"I was very proud and very excited to see her out there," Akisha Burgett, an Arlington, Va., resident said of her daughter. "And very jealous."
More than 45 women of color, their families, friends and supporters attended the game.
The group was founded last year by Renee Hess, a Riverside, Calif., woman who was interested in increasing diversity and inclusion in hockey by gathering women of color who, like her, are interested in the game but might be hesitant to attend games where people of color are in the minority.
"I think it's a great opportunity for women in general and women of color in particular to get together, talk about hockey and be part of a group and feel comfortable in the environment," Akisha Burgett said.
By attending Friday's game, the Black Girl Hockey Club returned where it all began. The group held its first meetup in Washington on December 15, 2018, witnessing a Capitals 4-3 shootout win against the Buffalo Sabres.
"I'm excited to have the group back in Washington, D.C., their reception of Black Girl Hockey Club is amazing," said Hess, who organized Friday's meetup but was unable to attend. "They are excited to have us in house and we're excited to be there."