ROCKVILLE, Md. - Since Alex Ovechkin joined the Capitals in 2005, participation in youth hockey in Virginia and Maryland has jumped 37 percent, according to USA Hockey.
Ian Wandell has been playing youth hockey in Rockville for four years. The Caps are pretty much part of his DNA, thanks in large part to his dad Dave.
"I haven't missed a game in 20 years," said Dave Wandell.
Dad put Ian on the ice for the first time when he was 6 years old, and it was love at first sight.
"When he got home, he got back in his hockey equipment and watched TV all night," said Wandell. "So, we knew this is what he loved."
Ian soon began idolizing players like Ovechkin.
"He scores a lot of goals, and I like that," Ian said.
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As Ovechkin kept scoring, Ian kept skating. He now plays in tournaments all over the county with the Montgomery Youth Hockey Association.
Dad said a hard work ethic is the most important thing this game has taught son.
"He has watched Oveckin's whole career," said Dave Wandell. "Almost there, almost there and he is at the point where he might get his first Cup finally."
Dad said the lesson in determination transcends throughout all aspects of his son's life.
"I work hard at school on work sheets and get good grades," said Ian.
Ian said he will continue to work hard on and off the ice. His career goal is to play in the NHL when he gets older, but only for one team:
"The Capitals," he said.
Maybe one day we'll be celebrating Ian and his teammates bringing the Stanley Cup home.