Greg Costa at Caps Practice
Greg Costa grew up a Caps season ticket holder. His seats at the Cap Center were right in front of Abe Pollin's, directly across from the Caps' bench. He had plenty of Caps memorabilia; Don Beaupre sticks, for example. And like any hockey-crazy kid growing up in Silver Spring, he had posters of Caps great on his walls: Kelly Miller, Dale Hunter and Olie Kolzig.
So it was initially a bit weird when Costa came out to skate with the Caps during offseason sessions at Kettler last week, and began firing shots at the same Olie Kolzig. He had been at a power-skating camp in North Dakota when he got the call from a buddy, Caps draft pick Luke Lynes, inviting him to last week's skate, which featured the team's top two goaltenders.
"Every kid's dream growing up around here is to come play for the Caps," Costa said after today's skate, which included Brent Johnson, Brian Pothier, Boyd Gordon, Bryan Sutherby and others." "It's definitely weird, coming out here and shooting on Olie the Goalie. You're a little bit timid at first, then you realize you have to shoot to score, so you do. You've got to keep it professional, just try to make it seem like you belong out here, not that you're just staring at them like a deer in the headlights....But they're just like you, they're down to earth guys. I'm here to get better, they're here to get better."
Costa played at DeMatha and was the 2002 All-Met Player of the Year; he then embarked on a Juniors career that took him to Illinois and South Dakota and Boston. He started playing for Northeastern last year at the age of 21, and plans to finish up a business degree and then try to continue his hockey career. Last year he skated a bit with Jeff Halpern in the offseason, and he knows several of the other young players who skate with the Caps (such as former B-CC guy and Caps prospect Stephen Werner), and so he had heard through the grapevine about this year's sessions.
"Kind of hard to turn that down," he said. "If you fall down or miss a shot, they're not going to rag you on it; they know you're just out here trying to get better."
Halpern ran the practices last week, and Pothier and Gordon took over this week. The sessions are winding down, although the Caps broke out the new practice jerseys today for the first time; "a little intimidating," Costa said.
I asked if he got any past Olie; "a few," he said. "The majority were definitely saves."
And as both a fan and someone who has been on the ice with the team, Costa is optimistic about the upcoming season; he loves the jerseys, he's awed by Ovechkin's talent, he likes the youth and all the rest. As always, he's planning on checking them out when they go to Boston.
"Hopefully this year," he said, "I can score some free tickets."
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