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Ovechkin a Capital host for valley teen

Alexander Ovechkin signs Ryan’s jersey during the morning skate, as did almost every player on the team. - courtesy Rowlinson family
Alexander Ovechkin signs Ryan’s jersey during the morning skate, as did almost every player on the team.
— image credit: courtesy Rowlinson family

As if meeting the Great Eight Alexander Ovechkin wasn’t awesome enough.

Duncan teen Ryan Rowlinson got nearly every Washington Capitals player’s signature, took home an Alex-autographed stick, as well as scored bonus tickets to not only one but two Capitals games.

The 13-year-old Queen of Angels student and his brother Jacob, mom Simone and dad Craig made the trip to D.C. last week to meet Ovechkin.

Ryan has neurofibromatosis, a condition that can lead to rapid and life-threatening tumour growth anywhere in the body.

He’s had repeated surgeries to remove tumours, which to this point have been located on his spine.

The Rowlinsons were thrilled to get extra tickets to the Capital’s Friday match against the Carolina Hurricanes.

“We were sitting at the centre line in the second row. Ovie got a goal that game too,” Ryan said Monday, pointing out the Russian hot rod had two goals and one assist against Edmonton and was that match’s first star.

Ryan basked in his glory as he watched Ovie’s team own the Oilers 5-0 on Wednesday.

The Capitals came out as leaders again Friday, beating the Hurricanes 2-1.

Ryan’s favourite part by far, though, was standing next to the 6’2, 233-pound, left-winger.

“He said its cool you’re here and just sort of talked about that, yeah,” a humble Ryan described. “He was bigger than I thought he’d be. It was awesome.”

Simone Rowlinson said the trip surpassed every expectation.

“I can’t even put into words the amazing gift that Make-A-Wish gave to Ryan… No detail was left unthought-of, and there were surprises at every corner, and every intermission.”

The family took a limo to Kettler Capitals Iceplex where they were welcomed with a sign made for Ryan.

“We sat and watched the Capitals practice while the boys eagerly waited for the Capitals to come and sign their jerseys and say ‘hi,’” Simone described.

“Then Alexander skated up. Ryan’s face said it all — he was in heaven.”

The Rowlinson’s met Capitals GM George McPhee and coach Bruce Boudreau. The boys then made a trip down to the locker room, where they found a section with Ryan’s name on it filled with goodies.

During Wednesday’s Oilers and Capitals game, Ryan sat in with the announcer and belted out to thousands of fans the start of the game.

The surprises didn’t end there.

Ryan then got to hop on a Zamboni and was on the ice-cleaning machine on the big screen.

“At the end of the second period, we went on a tour of the owner’s suite, and met the owners of the Capitals. What an amazing group of people.  We were invited back to Friday’s game too,” Simone said.

The list of people to thank is endless, she added.

“It was the gift of a lifetime and something Ryan needed so desperately… I can’t promise Ryan that he won’t have to go through more with his illness, or take away any of the painful memories, but on March 9, 2011, I can tell you that Ryan felt like the luckiest kid in the world.”

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