Over the last several weeks, Washington Capitals players have slowly made their way back to DC to start training for next season. Caps stars Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom, Braden Holtby, and John Carlson have skated daily at the team’s practice faculty in Arlington, Virginia along with younger players like Nathan Walker looking to gain an edge during training camp. The informal sessions, nicknamed Camp Nemo, are run by strength & conditioning coach Mark Nemish.
Without a full complimentary of players around, Nemish invited an 18-year-old, high school goalie, Max Cichanowicz, to join the team on the ice in August. The invite was advantageous for both sides. Nemish gained a full-time goalie; Max would try to make saves against some of the the greatest hockey players in the world, gaining valuable experience for next season.
It also didn’t hurt that Max is a huge Caps fan.
“Practicing with the Capitals was the time of my life and it really showed me that I could more than hang with the guys,” Max said in an interview with RMNB. “It has left me with all the confidence in the world. It has been an absolute dream come true to practice with the team that is essentially the reason why I play.”
Max shared more about his experience.
I have been practicing with the Capitals for the past three weeks through my connection with their head strength coach, Mark Nemish.
I am a goalie born in Washington DC who plays for a prep school in Pottstown Pa, called The Hill School. I am currently a rising Senior and will graduate this coming year. I have been playing hockey for 13-plus years. I went to my first Capitals game when I was five-years-old and since that day I have devoted a large portion of my life to hockey.
I think the funniest thing that I’ve learned, is the fact that, no matter how good or old of a player you are, when you’re in the locker room or on the ice, everyone is just a big kid. All the guys are always telling jokes and just having a fun time, whether they’re a professional or not.
This whole experience has been great motivation and a great learning experience. It really showed me what it takes to be the best of the best. They are always in the gym early in the morning before practice and right back in the gym after practice. Always doing bag skates at the end of practice to get in better shape. These are some of the examples of the things they all do and which separates them from everyone else.
This whole experience has made me a way better goalie then I was at the beginning of the practices and has motivated me to hopefully one day play in the NHL and live out this wonderful dream of mine. I’m so thankful for this opportunity and will make sure that I learn as much as I can from this experience to be the best I can be. The Capitals have really made me feel like one of them and it has been a really cool experience being able to practice with Braden Holtby, John Carlson, Lars Eller, Nathan Walker, Philipp Grubauer, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Pheonix Copley).
Photos: Max Cichanowicz
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