A Caps fan since she was five-years-old, Danielle Shindler went to many hockey games during the formative part of her youth. Danielle’s parents, who formerly resided in northern Virginia, were Capitals season-ticket holders. They passed their passion on to their daughter.
Some of Danielle’s fondest memories from her childhood include going to Caps practices at Piney Orchard Ice Arena in Odenton, Maryland. She once even owned a youth extra-small Olie Kolzig jersey. After graduating college from University of Michigan, Danielle moved back to DC for a job. The best benefit was to be able to see Caps games live again.
While Danielle has many fond memories as a fan, Monday’s Game Six will be a night she never forgets. Not only did the Caps win 3-0 to force a Game Seven in the Eastern Conference Final, she got to watch it from glass-side seats that she sat in for free via happenstance.
In some kind of weird cosmic twist, Danielle and her best friend Allie were each given $1,644 VIP tickets on their way to their actual seats.
“I was inside Capital One Arena walking to my seat as the national anthem was playing,” Danielle said. “The game was just about to start and the concourse was completely empty because everyone was already sitting. As I walked with my friend, a guy approached us and asked if we have tickets to the game, which was a strange thing to ask because we were already in the arena.
“At first, I thought he was trying to sell us something. He seemed a little sketchy,” Danielle continued. “He told us he had some extra tickets that he no longer needed and asked if we wanted them. My first thought was to say ‘No, thank you,’ but then he told us they were section 110 row A. I kept asking him why he was giving up such amazing seats and he flashed his ID badge, revealing that he was either a Monumental employee or a team partner.”
That wasn’t the only “crazy lucky” thing that happened to Danielle and Allie during the game.
Late in the third period, Devante-Smith Pelly scored one of the biggest goals of the Caps improbable season, taking a no-look pass from Chandler Stephenson and burying the puck past Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Smith-Pelly peeled around the net roaring in celebration before stopping right in front of jumping Danielle along the glass.
Danielle was featured several times on national TV, slapping her hands against the boards.
“I thought it was going to be an icing call, and then it wasn’t so I got super excited,” Danielle recalled. “The next thing I knew the puck was in the net and I don’t think I have ever jumped higher in my whole life! I just started screaming and banging on the boards. DSP stoppedright in front of me — which was awesome, by the way — and then the whole rest of the line was coming towards me so that’s when I started really freaking out.
“When they score and all embrace for a hug I call it a ‘celebratory cuddle puddle’ and felt like I was literally in the circle with them as they were jumping up and down with me and hugging me,” Danielle continued. “To be clear, no one was hugging me but I honestly felt like I was being hugged. It was just crazy! I got soaking wet by people spilling beer all over me in celebration, but I didn’t even care. I just got smushed myself up against the glass to get as close as possible. I couldn’t hear anything because it was so loud. I just saw DSP and Orlov and everyone else screaming so I started screaming because everything they were doing was contagious.”
Minutes later, Danielle’s phone began buzzing non-stop.
“My friends and family were all sending pictures and videos,” Danielle said. “People I haven’t talked to in years were texting me saying I was on TV. It was unreal to just get those tickets by pure luck and then also happen to be in the exact spot they celebrated a goal in probably the biggest game in 20 years.”
Danielle said that “it felt like I was on the ice with the players” and called the experience “one of the most fun nights of my whole life!”
“Being that close is a whole different experience – you can see how huge and fast the players actually are, feel the hits against the boards, hear them communicating,” she said. “It was so awesome!”
Despite coming home in a beer soaked jersey, Danielle had special plans for her crumpled and bent ticket.
“I think I have to laminate it and save it forever,” she said. “I hit the jackpot.”
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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