Saskatchewan Shockers G Zeke Zagurski is not widely known around the league as a colorful character. Within the Shockers’ locker room, however, the netminder has a reputation for being a little… well, quirky. “Zeke marches to the beat of his own drum, that’s for sure,” said D Chris Oflyng. “I mean, he’s not as crazy as our owner [Heinz Doofenshmirtz], but he’s his own kind of cat, definitely.”
Zagurski’s quirky side made a rare appearance on the ice, when the goalie was caught using one of his water bottles in a non-traditional way.
In the middle of the first period of Sunday’s season-opening game against the Michigan Gray Wolves, during a TV timeout, Zagurski reached for one of the two bottles sitting on top of his net. Rather than squirting it into his mouth, however, the Shockers goalie unscrewed the top and shook the bottle until a foil-wrapped package fell out. Zagurski then peeled back the foil, revealing a hot dog that he’d apparently smuggled onto the ice in the bottle.
“When we saw Zeke unscrewing the top of the bottle, we thought he was going to dump the water on his head,” said LW Troy Chamberlain. “We were a little worried, like ‘Is he getting overheated? Is he sick?’ Then out comes this hot dog, and he starts eating it. Then we were like, ‘Ah, that makes sense. Only Zeke would bring himself a hot dog to eat during the game.’”
Zagurski’s mid-game nosh drew the attention of Michigan’s radio broadcasting team. “Something strange happening over in net for Saskatchewan,” said color commentator Blackie Sprowl. “What’s Zagurski got in his hand over there?”
“Looks like it’s a… hot dog,” replied play-by-play man Philip Shelton. “He’s eating a hot dog. Folks, this is really happening: Zeke Zagurski is eating a hot dog while he’s on the ice. I don’t know where it came from, but… wow.”
“I thought we were the only ones allowed to eat during a game!” quipped Sprowl.
“So did I, but it’s snack time for Zagurski, apparently,” said Shelton. “We can’t make this stuff up, folks.”
“He’s my hero!” said Sprowl.
Wolves coach Ron Wright, on the other hand, was less amused. He barked at referee Darren St. James to make Zagurski throw the frankfurter away. When St. James declined to intervene, Wright lobbied St. James’ officiating partner Bernie Craig to assess the Saskatchewan netminder an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Like St. James, Craig refused to get involved.
Wright remained steamed about the incident after the game. “I thought it was a disgrace,” Wright said of Zagurski’s midgame dog-scarfing. “We’re supposed to be professionals, and this is supposed to be a serious game. Instead, we’ve got a guy out here acting like a clown, and nobody does anything. [Zagurski] has been in this league long enough to better.”
The coach called on the league to discipline Zagurski. “Otherwise, why stop there?” the coach snapped. “Why not wheel out a buffet table to center ice so we can all have a nice meal in mid-game? Why not have Uber Eats deliver food to the benches? If we’re going to be okay with eating food on the ice, why not let everyone in on it? Seriously, is this a hockey game on an all-you-can-eat special?”
For his part, Zagurski (who made 35 saves, but lost 1-0) claimed to be mystified by the fuss. “Goaltending is hard work, and I get hungry sometimes,” he told reporters. He added that he’d been exploring his options for on-ice snacking for a while. His original plan was to sew a pouch inside his jersey to hold some beef jerky, but “our clubhouse manager told me that would be an equipment violation,” so he opted for the hot-dog-in-water-bottle solution instead.
“Guys drink water on the ice all the time, and no one blinks an eye,” Zagurski concluded. “I have one little hot dog, and suddenly it’s World War 3.”
Zagurski’s teammates confirmed that his appetite is indeed legendary. “Everyone knows to hit the postgame buffet before Zeke gets to it,” said Oflyng, “or you’ll go hungry. That guy’s an eating machine.”
The league did not discipline Zagurski, but SHL Commissioner Perry Mitchell sent a communique to the referees clarifying that goalies’ water bottles must contain nothing but H2O, and indicating that future incidents would be penalized. “Zagurski’s actions weren’t technically in violation of the rules, but this isn’t a road we want to go down,” said Commissioner Mitchell. “If players want to eat, they can wait until the intermission breaks or after the game.”
Zagurski agreed to abide by the commissioner’s ruling, but he asked plaintively: “Why is it a crime to be hungry?”