Alaska Problems: Fleury’s Car Suffers Walrus Attack

When you’re a member of the Anchorage Igloos, life is a bit different than it is for the other 11 SHL clubs.  Most often, that difference manifests itself in extremely long road trips and brutal winter temperatures.  But occasionally, players have to deal with some of the quirkier aspects of the league’s northernmost outpost.  RW Jean Pierre Fleury found that out the hard way this week, when his new car was severely damaged by… a rogue walrus.

Fleury appeared in a couple games for the Igloos last year, but this season he became a full-time member of the roster.  He chose to celebrate making the big time (as well as his new contract) by purchasing a brand new Chrysler 300.

Jean Pierre Fleury

“For the first time in my life, I have a new car,” said Fleury.  “Before now, I always had old cars, rusting and crappy.  Now I can afford something nice.”

After showing off his new ride to teammates before Tuesday’s morning skate, Fleury parked it out in the farthest reaches of the players’ parking lot, which is located at the edge of the Gulf of Alaska.  He parked it away from the other cars to avoid door dings, as well as any pranks his teammates might want to pull.

“I thought maybe they would put shaving cream on the windows or something,” said Fleury.

When Fleury returned to his car after the practice session, he was shocked and distressed to find that the passenger side of his car was badly dented.  The damage was so severe that Fleury was unable to open the doors on that side.

“This was much worse than shaving cream,” Fleury noted.  “If this was a prank, it was a terrible one.”

His Igloos teammates quickly assured him that this was no prank.  But access to the players’ lot is controlled, and security guards did not report seeing any unusual cars enter or leave.  So what had happened?  Had some juvenile delinquents attacked the car?

Fortunately, the team posts security cameras around the lot, and they were able to find footage that showed what happened.  And when they reviewed the footage, they were stunned by what they saw.

At some point during the practice session, a male walrus climbed out of the water and onto the land near Fleury’s car.  It is currently the height of the walrus mating season, and the normally gentle creatures tend to be a bit more aggressive during this time.

It appeared that the walrus must have seen his reflection in the shiny paint of Fleury’s car, and mistaken it for another walrus, perhaps a romantic rival.  The animal backed up, then charged and headbutted the car several times, before wandering back off into the water.

Naturally, once word got around the clubhouse, the Igloos were all too excited to see the tape for themselves.  One of the team’s video editors created a continuous loop of the attack, which C Jake Frost then played in the clubhouse before Thursday’s game against Dakota.

“It was really fantastic,” said Frost.  “We just kept watching the walrus trashing J.P.’s car and laughing ourselves silly.  Meanwhile, J.P. was sitting over in his locker with his head in his hands.  He couldn’t bear to look.”

Fortunately for Fleury, his insurance was able to cover the damage.  And the team announced that it will build a fence along the shoreline to prevent incidents like this from happening again.

Until the fence can be constructed, however, Frost had another suggestion.  “Naturally, after this heinous attack on my teammate’s car, I decided to become an expert on everything there is to know about walruses,” said Frost.  “And by that, I mean that I read the Wikipedia entry on them.  And I learned that polar bears are one of the few natural predators that walruses have.  So that’s the answer: we need to send [Igloos mascot] Petey out there to defend our cars!”

Frost’s linemate Jerry Koons supported the idea.  “There are few things in life more terrifying than an 8-foot-tall polar bear with earmuffs and a hockey jersey.  If we have Petey sit out there and keep an eye on things, we won’t have any walrus problems any more. No one wants to mess with Petey.”

Advertisements

Announcer’s Joke Sparks Fish Incident in Michigan

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.”

Michigan Gray Wolves color commentator Blackie Sprowl.
Blackie Sprowl

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.”

Mascot War Rekindled: Wally Wolf Hacks Rival’s Twitter Account

It was supposed to be over.  During the 2015 season, the Anchorage Igloos‘ Petey the Polar Bear and the Michigan Gray Wolves‘ Wally Wolf were proxies for the rivalry between the West’s two top teams.  Both mascots feuded throughout the season before finally burying the hatchet during an on-ice sumo wrestling match in the last week of the season.  Since the mascots made nice, members of both teams (including Michigan LW Vladimir Beruschko and Anchorage coach Sam Castor) have insisted that the hostilities were dead and gone, never to resume.

Petey the Polar Bear

Looks like the declaration of peace was a bit premature.  When the Igloos and Wolves clashed on Friday at Arctic Circle Arena, Petey’s official Twitter account was hacked.  Upon investigation, the hack was discovered to be the work of Michigan’s mascot.  Not only is the Petey-Wally rivalry back, it has entered a new frontier.

Wally traveled with the Wolves for Friday’s much-anticipated showdown.  It’s unusual for a mascot to join a team for road games, but the Wolves said that they had brought him as “a good-luck charm” and “to give him a chance to catch up with his friend Petey.”  The two mascots met for tea on Friday afternoon at an Anchorage cafe; video of the rendezvous appeared on both teams’ websites.  All seemed normal.

But during Friday’s game, a series of unusual tweets appeared on the @IgloosPetey account.  Typically, the Anchorage mascot doesn’t tweet much during games, apart from a few pro-Igloos messages and the occasional selfie with fans.  During this game, though, Petey was atypically active.  In addition, the content of his messages was far different than his standard fare.

“My butt itches,” @IgloosPetey tweeted about six minutes into the games.  From there, he issued a series of tweets predicting that the Igloos would lose the game, adding insults directed at several Anchorage players and even the city itself.  After C Jake Frost pushed a slapshot wide late in the first period, a tweet reading “Frost is overrated” appeared on the account.  Later, @IgloosPetey issued the following slam: “Anchorage is a two-bit town that smells like rotten fish… ugh!”

Igloos officials became aware of the situations when fans began tweeting complaints to the account.  At first, they thought the culprit was a disgruntled employee, but they later realized that the account had been hacked.  The team quickly took steps to regain control of the account, and by the end of the game (a 3-2 Igloos win in overtime) the offending tweets had been deleted.

Wally Wolf

When the front office discovered that the account’s password had been changed to “W@llyRuleS!”, they were able to identify the culprit.  Apparently, during the seemingly friendly lunch, Wally got hold of Petey’s phone and was able to change the password to his Twitter account.

Anchorage GM Will Thorndike took umbrage to the hack.  “I am deeply disturbed that Wally Wolf would resort to cyber warfare,” Thorndike told reporters.  “And to take advantage of a friendly get-together to launch his nefarious plan… that’s so low, I have no words.  But if that’s the way he and the Wolves want to play it, we can do that.  The mascot war is back on!”

Replied Michigan GM Tim Carrier, “I am disappointed to hear these accusations against Wally on the basis of very flimsy evidence.  But if the mascot war is back on, so be it.  Oh, and in case the Igloos intend to try something when they come to town: Wally’s Twitter account has two-factor authentication.”

Igloos Clinch West

Anchorage IgloosThe matchup for the Vandenburg Trophy Finals is now set, as the Anchorage Igloos claimed the Western Division and will meet the Washington Galaxy for the championship.  The Igloos came into the last week of the season with the best record in the league, but with only a 6-point edge on the second-place Michigan Gray Wolves.  The two teams have battled it out all season, with Michigan’s heavy physical style pitted against Anchorage’s faster, skill-based play.

At the start of the week, Igloos RW Nicklas Ericsson fired a shot across the bow by saying, “There’s a lot riding on this title.  I know a lot of people are rooting for talent to win out over thuggishness.”  Gray Wolves LW Vladimir Beruschko shot back, “The win will come down to heart, who is the biggest warrior.  We do not mean to make it easy.”

The teams faced off head-to-head on Saturday in Anchorage, with the Igloos winning 3-1 to put the Wolves behind the 8-ball.  “No more room for errors,” said Michigan coach Martin Delorme after the game.  “All there is now is winning.”

The Gray Wolves got a break in their next game; they shut out Dakota 2-0, while Anchorage blew a lead late and suffered a stunning 3-2 loss to Saskatchewan.  “We can’t take our foot off the gas yet,” Igloos coach Sam Castor admonished his team after the game.  “The lack of effort we showed in the third was appalling.  Michigan’s too good for us to take this for granted.”

The Igloos and Gray Wolves then faced off again, this time at Cadillac Place.  Between periods, the team’s mascots, Anchorage’s Petey the Polar Bear and Michigan’s Wally Wolf, engaged in a sumo-style wrestling match at center ice.  The mascots have been feuding all season, and both teams felt it was time to settle things.

Each mascot won one fall; just as they were preparing to line up for the deciding third fall, Wally stuck out his hand to offer peace.  Petey shook, and they left the ice arm-in-arm.  “If Petey and Wally can make peace, there’s hope for the world,” said a visibly moved Igloos C Nile Bernard.  The Gray Wolves won the actual game, 2-1, to remain alive.

The battle lasted until the second-to-last game of the season, when the Igloos routed Saskatchewan 6-2 to clinch both the division and the Congress Trophy for winning the league points title.  The team engaged in a fairly low-key celebration; Castor led a locker-room toast and the players exchanged high-fives and hugs, but there wasn’t any loud music or over-the-top shouting and hollering.

“I think we’re all focused on the [championship trophy],” said C Jake Frost.  “We won’t really feel like the season is complete unless we win the whole thing.”

Castor predicted glory for his team, saying, “We’ve fought long and hard to get to this point.  We’ve been a strong team from the start, and we’re getting stronger.  I think it’s going to be very tough to beat us.”

Mascot Wars Continue

Michigan Grey WolvesAnchorage IgloosThe next salvo in the mascot-based war between the Anchorage Igloos and the Michigan Gray Wolves has been fired.  Two weeks ago, Gray Wolves LW Vladimir Beruschko created an uproar in Anchorage when he attacked Igloos mascot Petey the Polar Bear with his hockey stick.  This week, during a game at Cadillac Place, the Igloos struck back against Michigan mascot Wally Wolf.

During a break in action during the second period, Wally came onto the ice to toss some T-shirts into the crowd.  He unknowingly wandered a little too close to the Igloos bench, and C Jake Frost stuck out his stick and tripped the mascot, sending him down to the ice in a heap.  “With his big giant head, he just sort of toppled over,” said one witness to the incident.  Frost then pointed and said, “That’s for Petey, you bastard!”

Wally Wolf
Wally Wolf

While boos rained down from the crowd and Frost and his teammates whooped it up on the bench, the Gray Wolves fumed.  “Blindsiding a guy like that on the ice isn’t right,” said D Frank Mudrick.  “He could have blown out his ACL and ended his career on a move like that.”

Gray Wolves coach Martin Delorme walked to the end of his bench and began pointing and shouting at the Igloos.  Anchorage coach Sam Castor responded in kind, and the crowd roared as the two coaches waved their arms and argued.  “Honestly, I’m not really sure what [Delorme] was saying,” said Castor.  “He might have been yelling in French.  Don’t know.  I was pointing out that his guy started it, and to give it a rest.”

During the first faceoff after play resumed, Mudrick skated up to Frost and demanded a fight.  Frost skated away, and Igloos D Olaf Martinsson squared off with Mudrick instead.  “I’m a lover, not a fighter,” said Frost.

In the third, Wally re-emerged with a large bandage wrapped around his head, as the fans gave him a standing ovation.  Wally walked behind the Anchorage bench, withdrew a pair of water balloons he’d hidden under his shirt, and dropped them on the Igloos, soaking Frost and RW Remi Montrechere.  The mascot ran off before the stunned Igloos could react.

“Good thing he didn’t hit me with those balloons,” said Castor.  “I’d have chased him down and beat the hell out of him.  This suit cost more than his whole wardrobe.”

The SHL fined Frost $500 and Wally $250, issuing a press release that stated, “Okay, you guys have had your fun.  Now knock it off or we’re going to start handing out suspensions.”  But neither side showed any indication of ceasing hostilities.

“This isn’t over,” said Gray Wolves C Hunter Bailes.  “That polar bear better have a suit of armor ready for the next time we play them.”  Replied Igloos D Moose Baker, “Petey’s going to be ready, and we’re going to be ready.  If any of those guys so much as lays a hand on Petey’s fur, there’s going to be a line brawl on the spot.  Mark my words.”

Frost had another suggestion: “I think the only way this can end is for Petey and Wally to settle this on the field of honor.  [The Gray Wolves] can pick the time and place, and I’ll spring for Petey’s airfare.”

Igloos-Wolves Rivalry Gains New Edge

Anchorage IgloosMichigan Grey WolvesThe Anchorage Igloos and the Michigan Gray Wolves have developed a fierce on-ice rivalry as they have battled for supremacy in the West.  This week, the rivalry exploded off the ice as well, thanks to an incident involving a Gray Wolves player and a giant polar bear.

Petey the Polar Bear
Petey the Polar Bear

During the third period of Tuesday’s Wolves-Igloos game, Igloos mascot Petey the Polar Bear stood behind the Wolves bench, mocking and taunting them.  The Michigan players responded by banging the glass and squirting Petey with their water bottles in an attempt to get the mascot to go away.  But Petey hung in there, wiggling his fluffy behind in their direction and sticking his head over the glass.  Finally, Gray Wolves LW Vladimir Beruschko couldn’t take it any longer and snapped, whacking Petey in the face with his stick and causing the mascot to tumble onto the fans in the front rows.  Beruschko raised his arms in triumph and accepted high-fives from his teammates, but the Igloos were incensed at the violence visited on their mascot.

“There’s nothing wrong with a high-spirited rivalry,” said Anchorage coach Sam Castor after the game.  “But when you bring Petey into it, you’ve crossed the line.  We consider Petey to be one of us.  An attack on him is an attack on the whole team.  Beruschko better watch his back.”

Sam Castor
Sam Castor

Igloos GM Will Thorndike doubled down in a press release issued the next morning.  Titled “Justice For Petey,” the press release called on the league to “take swift action to punish the senseless brutality leveled against Petey the Polar Bear.  Petey is a beloved symbol of joy and family-friendly entertainment throughout the Anchorage community.  To see him savagely attacked in this way is an affront to all of us.  The sentiments of the entire Igloos organization can be summed up by a 6-year-old fan named Dwight.  After witnessing the heinous assault, Dwight said with tears in his eyes: ‘Mommy, what happened to Petey?  Why would that mean man hit him?’  Why indeed, Dwight.  While we are not necessarily calling for Mr. Beruschko to be banned from the league for his actions, we expect justice to be swift and severe.”  The press release went on to suggest that Beruschko be prosecuted under the Endangered Species Act for threatening a vulnerable animal.  Igloos fans rallied to the cause, starting the Twitter hashtag #IAmPetey to demand punishment for Beruschko.

Later in the week, the league announced that Beruschko would be fined $500 for “unsportsmanlike conduct.”  The league’s press release acknowledged that the Igloos had sought harsher punishment, but noted: “Upon further investigation, the league discovered that Petey was not an actual polar bear, but rather a team employee in a costume.  Therefore, the Endangered Species Act does not apply in this case.  Furthermore, while the league in no way condones Mr. Beruschko’s actions, the fact remains that Petey was trespassing on the Gray Wolves bench during the game.”

For his part, Beruschko claimed not to understand the fuss.  “He was being a big jerk,” Beruschko said of Petey, “so I got him out of the way.  On ice, this would not even be penalty.”

The Igloos proclaimed deep dissatisfaction with the outcome of the incident.  “Everyone in this locker room knows that Petey’s been done wrong,” said C Jake Frost.  “We’re not going to forget this, believe me.”  Asked if the Igloos might be plotting revenge against Michigan’s mascot, Wally Wolf, Frost replied: “We’ll deal with this matter however we deem appropriate.  We believe in policing ourselves.  Petey knows we have his back.”