Prospect Aliaksei Protas had a breakout game against the Edmonton Oilers. And he did so in front of some of his biggest fans in the world.
Protas tallied the primary assist on Nic Dowd’s game-winning goal after making an ingenious play on a breakaway.
The goal came after two other big third-period chances. Protas had a prior breakaway that was stopped by Oilers’ goaltender Stuart Skinner and his improved skating generated another great chance in front of the net.
— NHL (@NHL) December 6, 2022
On Dowd’s goal, Protas appeared to surprise everyone on the ice as he opted to spin around and hit the trailer.
“Honestly, I gave it to Pro. Another breakaway! He’s going to bury this one!” Dowd recalled. “And then he just made a great play. I was following it up and it came right back to me.”
On replays, the puck could be seen bouncing on Protas’s blade as he approached Skinner. “He was on his backhand,” Dowd offered too. “I think he thought he might have been caught.”
Protas seemed to feel the pressure of the hustling defenseman behind him and opted to make the unselfish play.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) December 6, 2022
“I knew him and Hath will be skating and help me,” Protas said. “I realized it was like three-on-two because one defenseman was on me and I saw one guy was on Hath. So I knew the other was wide open. I check and just drop it.”
Despite receiving the fewest minutes on the night (10:04), Protas made his mark on the game by bringing energy every time he hit the ice in the final period.
“Might have been Pro’s best game as a Washington Capital,” Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette said. “He was noticeable in his strides, in his offense, and his physicality. He was really good.”
Laviolette also praised Protas’s defensive play when he was out on the ice against Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
Protas seemed to be inspired by his junior hockey billet family who traveled to see him play. The Pagé family, including father Roger, mother Kim, and their two daughters Brooklyn and Cailin, sat in the lower bowl of Rogers Place. They were captured by NBC Sports Washington cameras wearing every jersey Protas has worn during his professional career.
— Rog-eh Pahj-eh (@rogerapage) December 4, 2022
Starting in 2018, Protas, a native of Vitebsk, Belarus, stayed with the Pagé family as he played for the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders. During that time, he grew into one of the best prospects in the Capitals system and the family helped him learn and speak better English.
“He instantly became part of the family,” Roger said to Jeff D’Andrea of paNow. “Every conversation we had was memorable for memory sake, or memorable because he would burn me with some zinger. He was witty. Every memory is a good one.”
Despite Protas moving onto the NHL full-time with the Capitals, he still continues to have a close relationship with the family.
“Every time he calls or Facetimes, he’s so thankful,” Kim said. “He doesn’t take any of it for granted.”
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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