Washington Capitals defense prospect Tomas Kundratek has always been active on social media. A few years ago, to encourage more Movember donations, he offered to take his most generous fan out to for a free meal at Houlihan’s. Yes. Houlihan’s.
While in Arlington last week for Caps training camp, Kundtratek challenged some of his 8,000-plus followers to a game of NHL15 along with 18-year-old goaltender Vitek Vanecek.
Two young Caps fans, Stuart Penninger and his brother Lee, played a surreal game of virtual hockey against two pros from their favorite team. It was a birthday treat.
Stuart explains the experience:
Social media is either the greatest invention of all time or the devil. I’m not sure which, but when it comes to connecting with a player from your favorite hockey team– it can be a blessing. Especially when they invite the relationship.
Tomas Kundratek and Vitek Vanecek were obviously having a slow, rainy Wednesday afternoon during Caps training camp last week when they reached out on Twitter asking if anyone wanted to play NHL 15. My brother, Lee, being his usual gung ho self, leapt at the opportunity to play them. Little did Lee know it was going to be a beating of a life time.
— Tomas Kundratek (@Kundrc84) September 24, 2014
I was in a dreary, sleep-deprived state when my brother first shouted at me saying he had just accepted a friend request on PlayStation from the Bears defenseman and the Caps 2014 second round pick. At first I didn’t believe him and wondered why he would make up something as ridiculous as that. In fact I was more upset he woke me up from a nap on my birthday. As I came to, I realized he wasn’t lying. After shoving his phone in my face for a couple minutes I finally, in bleary-eyed bewilderment, saw Tomas had actually accepted his challenge and they were about to face off. I shed my dazed state and pushed full throttle down on the adrenaline. This was really happening. My brother was playing and in some way communicating with a player from a NHL team I have adored since I was born.
As Tomas and my brother entered the team selection menu I told my brother he couldn’t pick the Caps. He had to see if Tomas would stick with the Caps or pick someone else (my poorly designed trap to test his loyalty). Tomas immediately went to the Caps and my brother chose the Ducks (his leftover Boudreau man crush still shines through). They readied up and the game began.
The innocuous beginning came with a couple shots going both ways, mostly from Alex Ovechkin and Corey Perry. The first period scoring was opened by Tomas, but was quickly followed up by a defensive gaffe by the aforementioned Czech (how many times did we hear defensive gaffe by the Caps in their own zone last year? I think it was a billion).
Tomas put the puck in his own goal courtesy of digi-Mike Green swiping at a loose puck shot on net by Ryan Getzlaf. The score going into the second period was 1-1. My brother at intermission pleaded with Tomas to pick up a mic and answer some questions but the other side remained silent. My brother started dishing out some weak trash talk specifically calling out Tomas for including Erskine in the lineup.
The Erskine trash talk ignited a fire and Kundratek scored two quick goals in the second period. Faceoff, boom, goal. Faceoff, boom, goal. My brother was floundering. He was being outcorsi’d, outworked, and outgritted or whatever that is. There was a stretch of about 12 minutes where my brother did not generate a single shot. The Czech like zen Tomas and Vitek used to demolish my brother in the second period was admirable.
Tomas added one more goal courtesy of an Ovechkin snipe and it was all but over. My brother desperately called for the ringer. He offered me the controller and said “you have to save us.” I did my best but Tomas was in full flight. Laser passes and massive body checks to gain the puck back. He posted one more goal in the third and celebrated like a true Capital by jumping into the glass. Our humiliation was complete. Or at least so we thought.
Tomas posted the results on twitter.
Who is next?good Winn for us!!! pic.twitter.com/8cvSgh3rp4
— Tomas Kundratek (@Kundrc84) September 24, 2014
Tomas was a good sport and it was a pleasure to play against him and was a birthday present I did not expect. All I can say to the rest of you Caps fans is beware of the Czech tiger when he challenges you to a game of NHL15. Because he will end you.
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