The Anchorage Igloos have faced a lot of obstacles this season as they’ve attempted to defend their division title. They’ve struggled to put together lengthy winning streaks. They’ve lagged far behind their rivals, the Michigan Gray Wolves, in the standings. Lately, as they’ve tried to nail down a playoff spot, they’ve been hit by a rash of injuries.
On Saturday, the Igloos came in to Cadillac Place to face the Wolves. They expected a challenging game against their rivals, but they also had to contend with an unexpected challenge: a hail of rotting fish showered down on their bench.
“You figure you’ll have to dodge some tough checks in a game, and maybe a beer sometimes,” said Igloos LW Jerry Koons. “You’re not really expecting to have to dodge fish.”
The whole thing was triggered by an offhand comment on the Wolves’ radio broadcast during last week’s 13-0 thrashing of Seattle. In the third period, color commentator Blackie Sprowl was trying to find something to talk about, since the game was completely out of hand. He wound up launching into a comic monologue about the challenges of the commentator’s life.
“You know, this job is harder than the fans might think,” Sprowl said to play-by-play man Philip Shelton. “It’s not all free food and fast women, you know. We got to fly to Anchorage.”
“Yeah, that’s always a tough trip,” said Shelton.
“You go on a 30-hour flight, then you land in this snow-encrusted outpost in the middle of nowhere. There’s more moose than people, and the whole place smells like rotting fish. Then you’ve got to take another 30-hour flight back to civilization. These are the kind of hardships that we put up with for you, fans.”
“Okay, Anchorage isn’t quite that bad,” Shelton interjected.
“Sure it is,” retorted Sprowl. “Whole place smells like rotten fish. You know, the next time the Igloos come here, we should put some rotten fish in their dressing room, just so they feel at home.”
“Rotten fish in the dressing room. Okay,” said Shelton incredulously. “Sorry, folks, this is what 10-0 does to you.”
“I think it’s great,” said Sprowl. “They’ll smell those rotten fish and say, ‘Hey, smells like home in here.'”
Ordinarily, that would have been the end of it. But when Anchorage arrived for Saturday’s game, a group of jokesters showed up with some day-old trout, and during breaks in the action, they began flinging it at the visiting bench.
The first salvo missed the mark, but the second hit Igloos D Ted Keefe flush on the front of his jersey. The blueliner stared quizzically at the offending fish, then tossed it aside as the fans cheered. As trout continued to rain down, though, the Igloos’ mood changed from confusion to frustration. A couple players started checking the fish back at the fans, while others complained to the ushers. Before long, the section behind the Anchorage bench was chanting “Fish! Fish! Fish!”
Eventually, the PA announcer warned the fans that “anyone throwing fish or other objects at the benches will be ejected.” The fans booed, but the chucking of sea creatures came to a halt.
The Igloos wound up winning the game, 3-2. During coach Sam Castor‘s postgame press conference, the first remark out of the coach’s mouth was, “What the hell was with the fish?” A local reporter explained the story, whereupon Castor rolled his eyes and said, “Listen, my suit costs more than the monthly paycheck of those clowns. The Wolves can expect a bill from my tailor.”
Igloos C Nile Bernard said that the team took the fish-flinging in stride. “In fact, we’re packing the fish up and bringing it back home for Petey,” said Bernard, referring to mascot Petey the Polar Bear. “We’re not going to let that stuff go to waste.”