Wednesday, February 15, 2006

AMHL Tuesday: Hugs and Thugs

“Happy Valentines Day!” I greet the players filing out of the Penguins and Blues locker rooms fronting Rink Two. Then I hug Blues’ power forward Peter Kokas, from behind. He laughs and then steps onto the ice to prepare for his battle with the Pens.

I turn around to walk with the AMHL photographer, who's shaking her head at the incredible display of public affection, to Rink One.

“Happy Valentines Day Jimmy!” Duck defenseman Brent "Br" (short for Brent) Delehey greets me as he approaches the entrance to the front rink. I return the heartfelt greeting (no hug) before his game against the Flyers.

Br’s teammate, goaltender Ken Tarr, his KISS mask firmly in place, is worried. The Flyers downed his Ducks in Week 2, 12–3, and Kenny wonders if he’s up to the task: stopping Brendan Doyle, who scored a hat trick in their meeting five weeks ago. Kenny’s face isn’t quite as white as Gene Simmons make-up, but the netminder looks a little pale.

“I feel like &^%*,” he says and then skates to his crease. His helmet pushed back, he leans over the crossbar and hacks to loosen the phlegm.

The game starts, and the Ducks take control. Up 2–0, things are going their way—until a puck bounces off Kenny’s defenseman and flits between the goalie and the post to his right.

Kenny takes the setback in stride but blows a gasket a few minutes later. He gives the Flyers’ Brendan Doyle a piece of his goalie’s mind—and his stick—for trespassing against his crease. The two thugs trade unpleasantries as push comes to shove. Peacemaker Pete Bagley, this morning’s referee, restores order.

“Maybe they’ll put us on the same team next year,” jokes Kenny. The game continues.

With 2:14 (get it, 2/14, Valentines day) remaining in the first period, recently acquired Duck center Dave Krinsky cradles the puck at the top of the circle to the right of Flyer’s goalie Brian Monahan. Krinsky shoots. He scores to give the Ducks a 3–1 lead.

Doyle and Tarr kiss and make up on a face-off in the Ducks' zone, the forward patting the goalie’s helmet.

At the intermission, Peacemaker Pete wants to update the score sheet but is frustrated with a Valentine note Delehey attached to the score sheet’s clip board. Delehey’s son had stuck the note in his father’s helmet, and Delehey placed it on top of the score sheet for safe keeping. Still frustrated, Bagley is ready to throw away the Delehey keepsake. But the AMHL photographer comes to the rescue. Saving the treasure from the trash can, she shares Delehey’s secret with his jealous teammates.

“If you can’t bring enough for everyone, you shouldn’t bring any at all,” Eric Schoen deadpans.

From me to you and all my friends and friends and family, Happy Valentine’s Day!