- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 9, 2015

Stan Galiev had skated at the Washington Capitals‘ practice rink before, so he figured that any excitement over a potential NHL debut wouldn’t settle in until he arrived that afternoon at the arena.

Only once before had Galiev been in the locker room at Verizon Center — last season, when the Hershey Bears played a game against the Syracuse Crunch — and he figured that the novelty would kick that enthusiasm up a notch.

His teammates knew that, too, and before the game, they told Galiev that given the circumstance, he could lead them onto the ice for warm-ups. What Galiev soon found, though, is that nobody else in red jerseys immediately followed, leaving him alone, in front of thousands of fans, with the Boston Bruins emerging from the opposite tunnel.

“I knew they were gonna do something special,” Galiev said after the Capitals‘ 3-0 victory. “It was fun. … I was waiting for all the teammates.”

A third-round pick by the Capitals in 2010, the Moscow-born Galiev languished in the minor leagues, spending two seasons in juniors and the two seasons shuttling back and forth between Reading of the ECHL and Hershey.

It wasn’t until this year Galiev started to come into his own, scoring 25 goals with 20 assists over 64 games, and he played well enough that with center Eric Fehr and right wing Tom Wilson out because of injury, he was the player the Capitals turned to as an emergency recall.

Coach Barry Trotz put Galiev on the fourth line — an all-rookie line, joining left wing Andre Burakovsky and center Michael Latta — and gave him 9:56 of ice time, all at even strength. He managed one shot on goal, missed another and delivered one hit, and the line was even trusted early to make defensive-zone starts, throwing it right into the fire against the formidable Bruins.

“I can’t think of any shift that they were really overwhelmed,” Trotz said. “They were overwhelming the other team. I thought they had lots of legs, lots of creativity.”

Galiev found out about his recall on Monday, when he received a phone call while at an airfield near Hershey. A teammate, Mike Moore, had recently obtained his pilot’s license, and a handful of players joined him out there.

He’ll likely stick around through at least Saturday, when the season ends at home against the New York Rangers. The future remains uncertain — a restricted free agent when his rookie contract ends after the season, Galiev may have shown enough poise in Hershey this season to be given another chance in training camp next year.

“It was like, exciting day for me, obviously,” Galiev said. “A dream come true. Basically, I’m nervous before the game, but as soon as the first shift over, I felt like it was a normal game.”

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