Today started with a 9 a.m. scrimmage at Kettler, which I believe is the earliest I have ever played since a Pee-Wee tournament back in Edina, Minn. Whatever the case the game went on. I think most of the guys would say the first period was a solid wake up call, and the last two periods provided for some solid 2-way hockey. Unfortunately my team, Group A, lost in a shootout, putting us in a must-win situation come Saturday.
I grabbed lunch back at the hotel after the loss and went up to the room to change into proper paintball attire (sweatpants and long sleeve shirt) before the battle began. A lot of the guys at camp this week were aware that the Capitals had a paintball outing as part of training camp last year, and a lot of guys have been looking forward to today’s off-ice warfare all week.
We all piled into a bus and drove nearly an hour up the road to Pev’s paintball. Most of the guys were sleeping on the drive up. I know I nearly nodded off a dozen times. We filled out release forms and decided to split the teams up to play USA vs the World. With special guest paintballer Brooks Laich in the mix it made the teams 21 to 20 in favor of the world, even though Marcus evened it out with his hide and hide tactics.
The first game of the day was elimination and ended in a tie as both teams were feeling the other out and guys seemed to stay back and not take enough risk. I on the other hand took a direct shot to the head from Garrett Mitchell. Game 2 was a USA win with Bruiser, Miele, Spinell, and Burt being standouts in capture the flag. The third game was also a tie in search and destroy, with a few great individual battles taking place between the Russian trio of Orlov, Stan and Gino against Burkey and Davis . . . Interesting how they were teaming up 3 on 2?? The fourth and fifth games were played on a fort course and split. The name of the game was Attack and Defend. I can’t explain how much more difficult it is to defend the fort because you’re completely surrounded with paint flying everywhere. deKastrozza and myself were the last two standing for the U.S. squad until Eakin came in and touched the center post.
Everyone took an extended break to replenish ourselves with as much water as possible and get our air tanks refilled with compressed air. It was a heck of a time as guys were covered head to toe in paint, dirt and soaked with sweat.
We moved to a lower course called “Town” and played two games, and I can’t recall who the winners were, but I know with all the different building and cover spaces it was nearly impossible to survive. The last game was Ironman, and all this means is you get the luxury of calling yourself “out” where as if you were hit before you had to return to the dead zone until the game was over. But in Ironman you can keep playing until you’re tired of getting hit. The big winners of this game were Brooks and Mitchell for Team World and Spinell and Miele on the USA side thanks to their gunslinger mentalities. I recall watching Brooks run down the middle of the course with two guns taking fire from all sides and Miele making two or three full runs down the middle taking heavy fire.
By the time we all made it back to the bus it was time to take a nap for most as we hit traffic coming back into town. I know that everyone had a great time playing paintball, but we’ll see how many guys are extra sore tomorrow, because it was a hidden workout.