Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored one of the biggest goals in hockey history on December 23. The Great Eight put career goal number 802 into an empty net against the Winnipeg Jets and passed the legendary Gordie Howe for second on the NHL’s all-time goal-scoring list.
We’ve all seen the highlight as broadcast by television networks. However, the best angle of the goal may have been captured on an iPhone 13 Max by a Capitals fan sitting along the glass.
The Capitals posted that angle of the goal on their Instagram account four days after the milestone puck crossed the goal line. It features an on-the-glass view of Ovechkin turning on Jets defender Josh Morrissey and blindly firing the puck into the empty net.
The video also captures the ensuing on-ice celebration as the Capitals emptied the bench to celebrate with Ovechkin.
The Capitals added the caption, “this angle tho >>>”, overtop the Instagram post in praise of the amateur camera work.
The person who took the video is Tyler Casagrande — a Leesburg, Virginia native and an Arizona Wildcats baseball outfielder. Casagrande attended Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax and Riverside High School in Leesburg before heading to Arizona.
“My dad has been a season ticket holder since 2004,” Casagrande said. “He started taking me to games when I was five years old. Almost 20 years later, we still have the same two seats in Row M and added [the] two seats on the glass about 10 years ago.”
“The list goes on and on,” Casagrande said.
He was also inside T-Mobile Arena when the Capitals won the Stanley Cup on June 7, 2018.
For the start of the game against the Jets, Tyler was actually across the rink in those original Row M seats. It turns out the story behind him getting Ovi’s big goal on film all comes from a pretty calculated mid-game, cross-rink seat move to his family’s “newer” seats on the glass.
“To be completely honest with you, it was definitely thought out,” Casagrande said. “My family of five was at the game. I was sitting in row M on the other side of the ice with my parents while watching my sisters on the glass. My dad and I said we needed to be down on the glass for the third period as we knew he was going to get 802. I said to my dad’s face that he was going to score in front of the Alibaba board right in his office. When Laviolette put Ovi out there, I pulled my camera out for the last minute and a half. Unreal to get a video of that caliber.”
So, how did a baseball player destined for First-Team All-Conference, First-Team All-District, First-Team All-Region, and First-Team All-State awards as a junior and senior in high school end up such a big hockey fan?
“My dad,” Casagrande said. “He was born in 1977 shortly after the arrival of the Caps. My grandfather took him to games at the old Capital Centre back in the day. The tradition continued as my dad started taking me to games when I was very young. The arrival of Ovechkin definitely sparked my interest. He captivated the whole damn city and turned our franchise into a powerhouse. It was impossible not to become a Caps fan.”
Casagrande, who started a career-high 25 games for the University of Arizona on the diamond last season, also played two seasons of hockey in the Northern Virginia High School Hockey League.
“High School hockey was a blast,” Casagrande said. “I played hockey because of my love for the Caps. Going to the games from such a young age made me want to play. I was always a baseball player first, but played hockey for the pure fun of it and to give me something else to do other than baseball. I think it definitely made me a better baseball player in terms of the shape it put me in, speed, leg strength, and hand-eye coordination. Obviously, still a baseball player, but I do miss it.”
Casagrande also has done some really cool stuff off the baseball field and outside of Capital One Arena. That side of the story all starts when the NCAA passed the Name, Image, and Likeness bill in July of 2021 which allows college athletes to profit from the usage of their name, image, and likeness in any deals they may receive from sponsors.
“Once NIL officially became a thing in July, I tried to act on it quickly and make the most of it,” Casagrande told The Daily Wildcat back in September.
The first thing he did was pair up with a connection he had at BreakingT, a Washington, DC headquartered real-time sports merchandise company started by Jamie Mottram, to set up a T-shirt deal. Casagrande immediately tied that in with Diamond Childrens Medical Center’s Pediatric Cancer Foundation located in Tucson, Arizona, run by Banner Health.
Through the proceeds made from T-shirt sales with BreakingT, Casagrande was able to provide Diamond Children’s Medical Center with $10,000 towards fighting pediatric cancer. His shirts are still available for purchase.
“The cooler side of the process wasn’t the NIL deal, but actually pairing up with Banner Health,” he continued. “I got to go to the hospital before I made my donations and I got to meet kids and parents just so I could really see where my money was going.”
What a fantastic story and fantastic footage to boot. Well done all around, Tyler.
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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