The Saskatchewan Shockers’ arena crew has gotten quite a workout this season. A couple weeks ago, they had to scramble to deal with the fallout of the Kazoo Night fiasco, when fans delayed the game multiple times by throwing objects on the ice. In Wednesday’s game against the Dakota Rapids, the crew was challenged again, this time by another unusual cause: a wayward stick that got wedged in the boards.
“That’s a new one by me, for sure,” said Rapids coach Harold Engellund. “It’s just one surprise after another this season.”
Apparently, it was all Justin Bieber’s fault. The pop star had played a concert at the Shockers’ home, Potash Arena, the previous night. As a result, the crew had to rebuild the hockey rink on a compressed timeframe. In doing so, they apparently neglected to fasten the bolts at the top of the boards in one end of the arena.
The problem wasn’t evident at first, but as the players banged into the boards over the course of the game, the gap between the boards began to widen. Then in the third period, Rapids RW Elliott Pepper swatted at a puck that had popped in the air, and his stick got stuck in the gap. After several furious tugs failed to dislodge it, Pepper skated away sans stick to rejoin the play. The referees then tried to yank it out and had no more success than Pepper.
At the next stoppage in play, the Shockers crew came over to pull it loose and failed again. Finally, Pepper was able to dislodge the stick with the help of teammate Lars Karlsson.
“I asked the refs if that meant we could stop the game immediately and declare us the winner,” joked Pepper. “They said no, but according to the prophecy, I believe this makes Lars and me king of hockey.”
After Pepper finally retrieved his stick, the crew worked feverishly to get the bolts attached properly. They managed to get things fixed with only a minimal stoppage in play, although they did need to ask some of the fans in the first couple rows to scatter so they could work.
“That was a prime-time performance by our crew,” said Shockers GM Cooper Matthews. “They were real professionals out there.”
Unfortunately for the home team, the game didn’t turn out as hoped: Saskatchewan trailed 5-3 at the time of the incident, and they wound up losing 6-3. “When they stopped play to fix the boards, I was kind of rooting for a postponement,” said Shockers C Napoleon Beasley. “We were already doomed.”
With five weeks left in the season, what’s next for the Shockers? “Is it frogs, or locusts?” said Matthews. “I haven’t read through the Bible in a while, but I think it’s locusts.”