Iafrate shoots down 100-mph barrier Caps defenseman stars in skills test

December 31, 1992|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- With the song "Wild Thing" blaring through the Capital Centre sound system, Washington Capitals defenseman Al Iafrate skated up to the puck and swung. The official clock registered the speed of his slap shot.

It read: 101.4 mph.

"Damn," said Iafrate, who became the first NHL player to hit a puck over the 100-mph barrier. "I can't believe it."

Believe it.

Iafrate shattered the record of 98.7 mph held by the Chicago Blackhawks' Chris Chelios.

An NHL representative was on hand to collect the history-making stick for inclusion in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

The shot was the highlight of Washington's part of the Score/NHL Superskills competition last night and was witnessed a crowd estimated at 8,900.

"It's neat to be first," said Iafrate, who initially attributed his success to "clean living."

The Superskills competition is being held in all 24 NHL cities this year for the first time. There are still six more teams around the league who have yet to hold the competition.

The top four qualifiers for hardest shot and fastest skater in each conference will advance to the league finals during NHL All-Star weekend in Montreal, Feb. 5-6.

The evening consisted of puck control relays, accuracy shooting, hardest shot, breakaway relay, fastest skater and puck control relay.

The Caps, divided into two teams, the Red and the White, were just five points apart most of the evening. But in the final contest, a shooting contest, the White team pulled away for a 30-10 team victory when, like the Caps in their last two games, they rallied for four goals, against goalie Don Beaupre, to win.

In an earlier event, it was Mike Ridley who impressed everyone in the accuracy competition, hitting all four targets on just four tries.

"Unlike everyone else," Ridley said with a grin, "I just shut my eyes and shot. Nah, once you hit one, it just kind of flows. Now if I could just get my wingers to pass to me."

At this point, Iafrate is obviously the top hard-shot qualifier in the Wales Conference, followed by New York Islander Uwe Krupp (97.7), Hartford Whaler Zarley Zalapski (96.9) and Boston Bruin Glen Murray (96.5).

Iafrate also won the Capitals' fastest skater competition, racing around the rink in 13.369 seconds, to be the Wales Conference's second fastest qualifier behind New York Ranger Mike Gartner (12.829).

Capital Peter Bondra clocked 13.424 seconds to finish second to Iafrate and will make the All-Star competition if his speed holds up as third fastest when all the conference teams complete their competitions.

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