Fredericksburg, VA — “Oh my god, that’s our baby,” Katie Taylor said as she saw her newborn son for the first time. Katie turned to Brandon, the love of her life. “We did it,” she said.
“You did it,” he said smiling back.
Cradling him in his arms for the first time, Dad told his son, “Welcome to the world. You will be loved forever.”
“He’s in perfect health,” the family said in a text message announcing the birth of their 7-pound, 12-ounce baby on March 7 at 4:59 pm in Fredericksburg, Va. “Mother and daddy are thrilled and exhausted. He’s the most perfect baby in the world!”
He’s also the most perfect example of a phenomenon known as a Stanley Cup Baby, arriving nine months to the day of the Capitals winning the franchise’s first championship.
That singular moment changed lives. It also created others.
Katie had several relationships, but they never quite panned out.
“I was told by my friends, ‘You’ll find love when you stop looking for it,'” she said from her hospital room in an interview. “Then, I met Brandon.”
Katie originally met her future husband during the summer of 2017 through the online dating app, OkCupid.
“His pictures were standard dating app fare: sitting with a cute dog by the river, hanging with friends at the bar, and wearing an Ovechkin jersey by the ice at the Capitals’ arena,” Katie said. “Mine were basic girly poses and various forms of duck face.”
The two exchanged messages for several days. When they found out they had a mutual friend in common who was throwing a birthday party, they decided to meet that night at a sports bar they both frequented in downtown Fredericksburg, Jay’s Downtown Sports Lounge.
That first evening, they barely spoke. For the first hour, they even admitted it was awkward. Both were nervous.
“I was ready to give up, thinking he wasn’t interested,” Katie said. Past relationships filled her head with negativity. “But when the birthday girl admitted she liked Nickelback, I dropped my beer in abject horror and we immediately hit it off and started cracking jokes on each other. It didn’t hurt that he was incredibly cute and funny.”
The two chowed down on cheese fries and a pitcher of beer filled with Bud Light.
When the night ended, Brandon walked Katie to her car. They exchanged numbers and kisses, going their separate ways for the weekend. They had their first official date the following Monday.
“I remember walking around downtown holding hands after dinner and he asked if I liked hockey,” she said. “Being a northern Virginia girl, I admitted I knew enough to like the Caps because of DC101’s Elliot in the Morning. I had never been to an actual game. He laughed and said he’d fix that. We quickly became inseparable.”
A couple of weeks later while Katie was over at Brandon’s apartment, she took his Braden Holtby t-shirt to sleep in.
“He knew he’d never get it back again,” she said laughing.
Brandon took Katie to her first Capitals game on October 7, 2017, a 6-1 thrashing of the Montreal Canadiens. Nathan Walker scored his first career NHL goal on the same night he became the first Australian to play for the NHL. Alex Ovechkin had a hat trick in consecutive games.
“I just remember loving the game and the energy in the arena, and how excited Brandon was to share the experience with me,” Katie said. “All we could talk about on the drive home was how great the game was, and how lucky I was to have such cool milestones in my first live game. From there I became a convert. If the Caps were playing, it was on TV at one of our apartments, or we’d walk to the bar where we first met and drink a pitcher and eat cheese fries again and cheer them on.”
For Brandon’s birthday, Katie bought tickets to the November 18 Caps game against the Edmonton Oilers. They had a blast again. The two moved in together not too long afterward. One of the first things they did together was to add the NHL package to their cable plan.
Fast forward a couple more months, the Caps were in the playoffs.
“It was all Brandon could talk about and very stressful in the living room those nights,” Katie said. “When Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final happened, Brandon and his father bought tickets to the Washington Mystics game so they could stay afterward and be a part of the Capital One Arena watch party for the hockey game. They too had a significant bond involving hockey and the Capitals. His dad took him to his very first home game when he was 16, so it was a pretty big deal for them to share that experience together.”
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Last night was amazing. From the first game to last night it was tough to be a fan. Every season with a great season but a dismal playoff run. Last night the atmosphere was amazing and the 10 hours of being there was worth it. No shame for those tears of joy but I wasn’t the only one. My dad took me to my first ever Capitals game and it was fitting for him to be here for this.
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Katie had work obligations and was anxious being around being crowds that large so she opted to stay in and watch from home.
“When they won, my phone started blowing up,” Katie said. “I knew he was going to be beyond amped up by the time he got home. I fell asleep not long afterward, I was woken up at 2 am to our dog Tucker going ape shit as Brandon shook me awake hoarsely shouting ‘did you see it?! Did you hear?!’
“He proceeded to tell me, in detail, about how crazy the game was,” Katie continued. “He was so full of adrenaline that our hormones kicked in and we ended up staying awake for a bit longer. He went back to the couch and watched postgame coverage until he could finally pass out. That next morning, when my alarm went off for work and I rolled over to silence it, he looked at me and said ‘holy shit, the Capitals won the Stanley Cup.’ We were both still thrilled and feeling it, so we celebrated again that morning.”
The couple spent the rest of the weekend in a hockey-food-love-coma and barely left the apartment.
When the Stanley Cup came back to DC and Ovi was swimming in fountains, the couple cheered from afar. When Facebook notified Katie and Brandon of an opportunity to take a photo with the Stanley Cup, they drove 90 minutes north to the Capitals practice facility in Arlington, Virginia and stood in sweltering heat for six hours with 6,000 other fans. They made friends and spontaneously cheered.
Katie’s best friend Carl came along as well and spent the whole day in awe of the experience.
Carl even pointed out Capitals PA announcer Wes Johnson to Katie in the gift shop and being a former introverted gamer girl, she introduced herself to him as a big Elder Scrolls/Bethesda Games fan. They took a photo together. Johnson, an actor, has contributed many popular voices to video game characters including Sheogorath.
Eventually, the couple would be one of the last people to take a photo with the Stanley Cup. They held hands together while both kissing and putting their opposite hands on the championship trophy.
Little did they know, there were actually three people in this picture.
“A couple of weeks later, I realized my calendar was a bit off and bought a 3-pack pregnancy test,” Katie said. “On July 3rd, we learned we were expecting. We spent the whole holiday in shock and quickly went to an OB to confirm how far along I was. When our doctor said it looked like we’d conceived around the 2nd weekend of June I immediately started cracking up and looked at Brandon, then my belly, and simply said ‘Stanley.’ He looked at me, high-fived the OB, and from then on that was it.”
Between the happy tears and laughter, Katie and Brandon knew their lives had completely changed and everything would be about their upcoming bundle of joy moving forward. Their due date was listed for March 1. All they had to figure out was a name.
“We called the fetus Stanley so much that people began to think it was his actual name and we didn’t even know the gender yet!” Katie said. “The first baby gift we ever received was a Stanley Cup champions bib from my boss. When we announced the baby to Brandon’s parents, we bought Capitals onesies and surprised his dad on his birthday with the news.”
Fast-forward to the 20-week ultrasound, the tech informed the couple that the baby was indeed a boy.
“Our immediate reaction was ‘Thank God’ because girls are intimidating,” Katie said. “Then in the car afterward, Brandon looks at me, and says ‘that kid’s playing hockey.'”
From then on, the couple debated names trying to figure out which one fit just right.
“I was an English major and wanted to be literary, while Brandon wanted to name the kid Alexander Ovechkin the II which sounded cool in theory but would definitely cause a lot of weird questions later,” Katie said. “My stepbrother was also expecting his first child a couple of months ahead of us, and in the fall we were at a BBQ exchanging name ideas and he mentioned Braden had been a contender because he and his wife were huge Caps fans too. They ultimately settled on a different name instead.
“The whole drive home we couldn’t get Braden out of our heads though,” Katie continued. “I still had the Holtby shirt I stole from our first sleepover and the more we thought about it, the more we liked it. Holtby had The Save in Game Two. So we decided to name him Braden Levi Taylor.”
In their hospital room two days after his birth, tiny Braden slept sweetly on top of the shirt that inspired his name.
He cooed while in a deep sleep — that is until he got hungry. Using all of his strength, Braden cried for Mom as he swayed acrobatically in his baby box like a netminder in his goalie crease. Both parents spoke optimistically about their son’s future.
“I love him so much,” Brandon said.
“I still can’t believe it,” Katie said. “He’s our little champion.”
Like it was written in the stars, Braden arrived six days after his due date, marking the nine-month anniversary of the Capitals’ Stanley Cup victory.
The very next day, Katie and Brandon got a surprise video from Wes Johnson, welcoming Braden to the world from the Capitals penalty box. They cried.
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Well @thereal_brandontaylor and I struggled for hours on crafting the perfect birth announcement with zero luck. So we decided @wesjohnson could do it better! Please join us in welcoming to our family and the world Braden Levi Taylor! #unleashthebaby
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Brandon played the video for Braden at the hospital. They cried again.
The couple has already bought Braden his first jersey, in multiple sizes, as well as more Caps-themed gear than they have combined. He’s taken pictures in a replica Stanley Cup.
“It’s not lost on me that the Capitals inspired a huge part of our relationship, the conception of our son, and the building of our family unit,” Katie said. “I look forward to when he’s old enough and we can take him to his first game.”
That hockey game will be one of many firsts that Katie, Brandon, and Braden have to look forward to as they begin their lives together: one breath in and out, one skate in front of the other.
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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