LANDOVER -- The 7,300 fans who came to USAir Arena last night for the third annual Washington Capitals Skills Competition cheered mightily, trying to encourage the Capitals shooters to excel on the hardest shot.
But it was Washington Redskins place-kicker Chip Lohmiller, hitting the puck a whopping 94.3 mph, who walked off the winner.
"That's a little embarrassing," said Washington defenseman Calle Johansson. "But he's a big, strong guy."
The Capitals' hardest shooter was Jason Woolley at 94.1 mph.
Defenseman Sylvain Cote won fastest skater, completing the circuit in 13.715 seconds. Rookie defenseman John Slaney earned the title of most accurate shooter,netting four of seven shots.
Al Iafrate, the NHL's hardest shooter at 105 mph and also the Caps' fastest skater (13.369 seconds last year), was unable to compete last night because of a sprained knee. Iafrate will defend his slap-shot title at the All-Star weekend Jan. 20-22 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
"The Caps know I can hit the puck pretty hard, but I'm a little bit surprised," said Lohmiller, who started playing hockey at the age of 4 but hasn't played competitively since high school. "I knew I could hit it hard, but not that hard.
"If Al had been here," said Lohmiller, "I wouldn't have been within 15 miles per hour of him."
Not all the celebrities fared so well with their shots. Pitcher Gregg Olson shot the puck 39.7 mph after fanning on his first attempt.