Caps Play Pond Hockey

Erskine, Brashear show off stick prowess

Although there weren't 50,000 screaming fans or a historic setting, the Caps held their own mini Winter Classic last night.

Hundreds of members of the private Chevy Chase Club were treated to an extended 3-on-3 scrimmage.  They saw plenty of goals from some unusual scorers and plenty of terrible refereeing.

After Wednesday's practice, the Caps split into two teams, drafted by their goalies, Jose Theodore and Brent Johnson.  Showing that GM George McPhee isn't in danger of losing his job to them, the two backstops repeatedly passed on drafting Alex Ovechkin 'til the very end when Johnson nabbed him.

But in a game where John Erskine -- he of the six career NHL goals -- potted three and Donald Brashear scored his own hat trick (and not the Gordie Howe kind), maybe taking Ovie near the end wasn't such a bad idea?

Although nobody could agree on a final score, the universal sentiment was that the referee needed some work.  Coach Bruce Boudreau served as ref and linesman, no doubt displaying impressive Mike Gartner-like speed from end to end.

Gabby waived off a would-be tying goal in the closing seconds of the game, drawing the ire of his superstar: "It was tied. The referee was no good. Tell Bruce he was no good."

Ovie didn't have to.  Plenty of other players did.

The temporary zebra told the Post, "It was fun until both teams started yelling at me," he added, chuckling. "I thought they were getting too serious, so I had to pull them aside. I told them: 'Leave me alone, guys. I can't take this pressure.' "

Despite the good-natured ribbing, the players seemed to love the competition, and the fans certainly enjoyed it.  Perhaps the Caps will find a way to host a real Winter Classic before 50,000 screaming fans at RFK some New Year's Day.  Nobody would bet on another Erskine hat trick then.

Chris Needham used to write for Capitol Punishment before the frostbite set in.

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