COLUMBUS --Brett Connolly had no idea his repeated attempts to give a puck to a young girl would become a social media sensation or that he'd earn a new fan for his efforts.
Now, the Washington Capitals forward is making plans to meet 6-year-old Keelan Moxley when she attends Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round between the Capitals and Blue Jackets at Capital One Arena on Saturday. Moxley and her family will be guests of Capitals owner Ted Leonsis.
Connolly said wife, Katrina, has been in touch with Moxley's mother, Lauren, and filling him in on all that Moxley has been through since Connolly tossed her a puck before Game 2 of the best-of-7 series in Washington on Sunday.
"I'm sure I'll get to meet her. I'll sure we'll do something for her," Connolly said before Game 4 at Nationwide Arena on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; USA, SN, TVAS2, FS-O, NBCSWA). "It's pretty cool. She seems like a great young kid with a ton of energy and a good attitude and a good little sense of humor. I'm excited to see where that all goes."
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It all began during warmups Sunday, when Connolly was waiting his turn to shoot and spotted Moxley watching from behind the glass.
"I saw her, singled her out and then I tried to give her a puck," Connolly said. "Usually, I throw a puck every game [to a fan]. I'm kind of waiting for my shot, so I do it."
Connolly's first attempt to toss the puck over the glass to Moxley was intercepted by a man who gave the puck to a boy standing to her right instead. Seeing what happened, Connolly tapped his stick blade against the glass pointing at Moxley.
"I saw her face and she was not happy, obviously," Connolly said. "So I said, 'I've got to get another one.'"
The man again intercepted Connolly's toss and gave it to the boy standing to Moxley's left. A frustrated Connolly then banged the glass with his hand, making it clear he was trying to give the puck to Moxley, and went to get another one.
"I kind of looked at the [man] and just made a point. It was, 'Just make sure she gets it,'" Connolly said. "It's funny. Whatever happened to ladies first?"
Connolly tossed a third puck over the glass and this time the man gave it to Moxley. She broke into a smile and turned around to show it to her father, who was standing a few rows back.
The whole sequence was captured by NBC Sports Washington, and the video became the most streamed NHL video on Twitter of all time. Moxley has become a mini celebrity at school and her mother shared a video of her talking about what happened with CBC News.
"I didn't know until after the game my phone was blowing up and everybody had saw it," Connolly said. "It's really, really cool just to see something little that you can do for a young kid, a young girl. I saw her interview. She's extremely well spoken for a young kid. I think she's a fan favorite now, so she's getting a little bit of recognition too. So she's having fun with it. That's what her mom was saying. She's just having the best time ever. All her classmates think she's famous."
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