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With Capitals' Stanley Cup spotlight, crab-tossing gains steam

A premeditated crab-tossing has forever been stamped into Stanley Cup and Washington Capitals lore, thanks to 15 year-old Jack Merritt of Bethesda — and now it looks as if he might inspire an encore.

After Merritt, a sophomore hockey and lacrosse player for Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, lobbed a steamed crustacean into the left faceoff circle at the end of Saturday’s Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, the seafood took on a life of its own.

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The Capitals crab toss’ origins are humble and Baltimore based. After his grandmother surprised him with a ticket to Game 3, Merritt, equipped with the knowledge of seafood-throwing traditions at hockey games, immediately went to work.

“I thought a crab was perfect to represent our area,” Merritt told the Washington Post.

He connected via Facebook with Ryan Henkin, a Baltimore native, Capitals fan and, most importantly, accomplished crab-thrower. Henkin, who cloaked his own crab in a cough-drops bag during the Baltimore Hockey Classic in 2011, advised the teen to find a fresher, and therefore more firm-bodied, crab that would survive the flight.

On Saturday afternoon, Merritt paid $6 in cash at Bethesda Crab House for his piece of NHL mythos.

“It was in the front of my pants. It wasn’t that uncomfortable, honestly. It wasn’t like pinching me or anything,” Merritt told the Post. “I was pretty nervous going through security, but once I got through, I went to the bathroom and took it out and put it in my bag.”

Merritt slipped past security at Capital One Arena by wrapping his crab in a Ziploc bag and sticking it between two pairs of underwear. As the Capitals’ 3-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights wound down, Merritt made his way from his seat in the 400 level close to the glass.

He held his hand in the bag for the final three minutes, and as the end-of-game horn blared, Merritt chucked the crab out onto the ice.

The teen created a Twitter account to honor the “Caps Crab,” and the hashtag #ThrowtheCrab has gained steam. Merritt told the Post that he doesn’t have tickets for Game 4, but Jimmy’s Famous Seafood has given fans a reason to follow in his footsteps.

The crab-tossing crusade continued during Game 4 last night, when another crustacean was lobbed onto the ice.

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