Throughout the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs, I remained cautiously optimistic about the Caps chances. As each round went by, I began to believe. I changed up my game day routine after game 1 and went downtown for games 3 and 4 for the pregame concerts and stayed for the F Street parties. I, like many others, was locked out of a game 5 watch party ticket, but I was fortunate enough to get a media credential to photograph the watch party for Monumental Sports and Entertainment/Capital One Arena. Even though I was working, as a lifelong Caps fan, I admit I did spend some time enjoying the game and celebrating with some friends in attendance. As the 3rd period began, I had gotten most of the photos I wanted, so I found a spot along the boards where I could sit and see the jumbotron and not be in anyone’s way. Shortly after, Smith-Pelly scored his incredibly acrobatic diving goal. I jumped up to celebrate as every fan did but remembered I had a job to do. So I resumed photographing and when the celebration died down, I went back to the same spot I was sitting in before DSP’s goal. As Michael Scott from The Office would say, “I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.” That worked out because several minutes later, Eller scored the eventual game-winning goal. Needless to say, I did the same celebration routine after Eller’s goal and remained in that spot and position until the final whistle. I honestly couldn’t believe it when it ended but knew I needed to capture the moment and I could let it soak in later. I remained in Capital One Arena through most of the celebration but went out to F Street to capture the atmosphere outside. Seeing strangers exchanging tearful embraces to celebrate their team finally bringing a championship home to DC was a memory I won’t ever forget. I even randomly ran into a friend I started playing hockey with in 2001 and hadn’t seen in years. I returned to Capital One Arena to send in my photos and when I left around 12:30 AM, I could still hear fans celebrating.
From the time the final whistle blew, I was checking the Capitals website and Twitter to find out when the championship parade and rally would be. When I found out, I started planning how early I would get downtown. I debated driving in the night before and camping out or Metroing in the day of. As June 12th came around, I opted for taking the first train out of Reston at 5:00 AM, putting me downtown at the front of the fence by 6:00 AM. I normally sleep on the train and even though I woke up at 4, I couldn’t sleep a wink. When I got to the stage, I met up with a friend and started making new ones. Even though we were tired, the excitement from the championship and the rally to come kept us going and I don’t think we sat down until the rally was over. Between reminiscing about the playoffs, debating the best goals, and singing karaoke from the music that was blasting over the speakers, we couldn’t have enjoyed ourselves more. I had never been to a championship rally before, but the Capitals set the bar high. The entire day was an incredible experience and if TJ Oshie is correct, I can’t wait to do it back to back.