Tuesday, February 21, 2006

AMHL Tuesday: Turkey Drop

Everything appears normal from the outside. The Rink Two parking lot is full of cars at 6:15 a.m. Inside Valley Sports Arena, most Blues and Leafs are tying their skates or putting on their helmets, all but ready to get things going.

Adam, “Acting Donut Meister” Berger, has returned from a mysterious absence last Thursday. He’s on the ice warming up, as his precious cargo—donuts, bagels, and bananas—rest in plain view through the glass partition of the AMHL inner sanctum: the Donut Den.

But all is not as it should be. Eric Schoen, wearing a tie-dye shirt and hockey pants, lugs his business suit, tie, and slacks over his shoulder, is here one day too soon. His Ducks play tomorrow. Peter Kokas, one of Tuesday’s VP of Operations, denies Schoen’s request to suit up for either team despite Schoen’s protest.

“I’ll play defense. I’m a liability there!”

Kokas will regret his decision to displace the man who could have skated…as a referee. Unbeknownst to Kokas: Peter Saul is the AMHL’s lone zebra this morning.

Meanwhile, Blues’ forward Kate Antos appears in the hallway joining the two rinks. She is desperate to get back to her team but is missing a right-handed hockey glove.

A subsequent search at the Lost and Found proves fruitless, and no Blues or Leafs have an extra glove.

The search continues at Rink One. Penguin Kevin Crowe doesn’t have a spare, but Mike Chase has an extra set in his red hockey bag in the Penguins’ locker room. Antos is good to go.

If only there was a referee for her game. Eric Schoen is nowhere to be found now.

Back at Rink One, Penguins star and Tuesday’s other VP of Operations, Dana Salvo, consults with Kokas. Salvo’s team, which is short players, needs him. It’s up to Kokas to make a decision.

“Take this game,” he directs Saul to oversee the Flyers and Penguins.

Kokas joins Antos, with her mismatched socks and oversized gloves, on Rink Two. But Tuesday’s head honcho has no intention of officiating this game. Instead, he employs the honor system. No referees, no icing, no penalties.

No way.

Tim Cook, playing wing for the Blues, drops the puck at center ice, and the madness begins.

At one end of the ice, substitute Blues’ goalie Ken Tarr snares a puck and forces a face-off. At the other end, goalie John Saner stops a shot and smothers the puck forcing a whistle that does not blow. Play continues without a face-off.

Players ice the puck but keep playing.

In the second period of a close game, the Blues’ Bob Kilkenny is at center ice to take a face-off. He places the puck on top of his helmet and attempts to drop it between him and his Leaf counterpart. The trick fails.

By now, the off-ice official in the heated scoring hut has completed two lines on the score sheet. Referee: Les Nessman. Scorekeeper: Johnny Fever. All this game needs is a turkey drop.

Little gobblers enter the building through Rink Two’s set of double doors. The little turkeys’ parents are with them, clutching Dunkin’ Donuts coffee cups and hauling their kids’ hockey bags over their adult shoulders.

The horde heads for the donut room. The Leafs’ Erin Tullock, whose bad hip has forced her from this game, is nearly swallowed by the sea of hockey urchins entering the desecrated donut room. Tullock flees the room and walks to the now vacated heated hut to keep score.

The photographer and I exit the scene, hoping the Mites keep their mitts to themselves and leave the donuts alone.