Ken Brasington's cap was thrown onto the ice at PNC Arena following an Alex Ovechkin hat trick.
When Alex Ovechkin notched his second straight hat trick during the Capitals' 5–4 win over the Hurricanes last week, the ice inside PNC Arena became covered with hats destined to be lost forever.
However, one hat, with some help, miraculously made its way back to its original owner.
“I think, total, that thing has seen 33 countries, four IEDs, and two combat zones.”— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 20, 2018
Washington superfan and Marine Corps veteran Ken Brasington on his beloved Nats cap that he nearly lost, and the incredible story of him getting it back (via @TMZ) https://t.co/13aemyc9n9 pic.twitter.com/fmS5ZEEMds
Ken Brasington, a Marine Corps veteran and diehard Caps fan, traveled with his wife from Charlotte to Raleigh, N.C., to watch the game. The 38-year-old was proudly sporting a well-weathered Nationals cap on his head that's synonymous with his appearance. But as Ovechkin recorded his hat trick, someone took the hat off Brasington's head, kickstarting what he described to the Washington Post's Scott Allen as a "real nightmare."
Brasington's hat was first flung short of the glass separating fans from the ice, but was soon picked up and thrown onto the ice.
Brasington has owned the hat since 2004. In 14 years, the hat had outlasted three trips to Iraq and two more to Afghanistan.
“I think, total, that thing has seen 33 countries, four IEDs, and two combat zones,” Brasington said.
But at that point, the hat seemed destined to be lost forever. Hurricanes officials told him after the game they wouldn't be able to return it to him.
Brasington's quest to recover his cap didn't end though. He contacted Capitals beat reporter Isabelle Khurshudyan, who reached out to Pace Sagester, the Hurricanes' manager of communications. Sagester contacted Mike Sundheim, head of the ice crew which cleared the ice following Ovechkin's goal.
The recovered hats were stored in a large bag inside PNC Arena. Prior to the Hurricanes' practice Sunday, Sagester and Sundheim went to find the hat, which was conveniently at the top of the pile.
"We dug through a couple other hats just to make sure, but that was pretty much the only Nats hat," Sagester said. "It’s super beat up; the bill has, like, chunks missing out of it. It’s almost pink it’s so faded. It’s not something I would want to put on my head, but it’s special to him.”
Brasington's hat, along with a brand-new Hurricanes cap, was mailed to Brasington on Tuesday. His wife suggested displaying it.