Reigning NHL most valuable player Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals took to the ice Monday night, hosting nearly 100 youth hockey players age 6 to 14 in the Crazy Eights Skills Session at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va. Ovechkin skated for an hour with the youth hockey players, joining them in drills, passing the puck and sharing tips on how to one day make it to the NHL.

“The kids seem to be having a good time, which is the best part,” Ovechkin said while signing an autograph for each participant after the on-ice session. “The people here in Washington have been so supportive of me and our team; it’s fun to get out on the ice and maybe help them a little bit.”

For Ovechkin, who turns 23 on Sept. 18, the event marks the second year of what he intends to make an annual tradition of celebrating his birthday with a unique community service program. Last year he led a beautification project at Shaw Junior High School in Washington, D.C. It also marks the first of many community initiatives he will support throughout the 2008-09 season.

The Crazy Eights Skills Session gave children hands-on instruction from Ovechkin, who won the Hart Trophy (most valuable player), Lester B. Pearson Award (best player as voted by his peers), Art Ross Trophy (leading scorer) and Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy (leading goal scorer) in 2008-09 while setting a Capitals record and an NHL record for a left wing with 65 goals. The mites, squirts and pee wee/bantams who took part are all members of Kettler Capitals Iceplex’s youth hockey house league.

Pulte Homes, a proud Capitals team partner, underwrote the Skills Session as it looks to partner with Ovi’s Crazy Eights on other D.C.-area initiatives. “We think Alex will continue to contribute to the youth in the Washington, D.C., area and we couldn’t be happier aligning Pulte Homes with such a great ambassador,” said Lou Baker, Mid-Atlantic President, who was in attendance for the event.

Ovi’s Crazy Eights is a program Ovechkin established in 2006 to give back to the Washington, D.C., community. Ovechkin purchases eight tickets to every Capitals home game and donates them to Most Valuable Kids (MVK). MVK, in turn, distributes the tickets to needy children and soldiers in the Washington, D.C., area. The group sits in a special section at Verizon Center and Ovechkin regularly meets with them personally after the game.

For more on Alex Ovechkin visit his official website