Warning: May Contain Mascots (AHL ASG Edition)

Posted February 1, 2012

After last night’s Caps game, we all need something to distract us and lift the spirits.  Not that there weren’t fantastic stand-out moments, but it wasn’t how anyone had hoped to start the post-All Star Game (ASG) run.  The Capitals Outsider response is thus: Bring on the Mascots!!

Hawkeye, of the Abbotsford Heat, cruises the aisles (All Photos Credit: M. Richter)

One of the greatest things about the AHL All Star Game (and, I suspect, the NHL version, though I can’t speak from personal experience) is the sheer quantity of mascot shenanigans involved.  The game serves as an exhibition site for the costumed critter brigade just as much as the skating crowd, and they always make the most of it.

In Hershey, nobody bats an eye at anthropomorphic candy (Captains Boyd Kane and Mark Parrish face off for a ceremonial puck-drop on November 9, 2011)

Setting the Stage:

It must first be duly acknowledged that mascot shenanigans are a given part of large-scale sports events.  The most relevant hockey-related faces being Coco the Bear, who regularly hits the ice at Hershey’s Giant Center between periods, and the well-known Capitals mascot Slapshot.  Down in Charleston, the Stingrays have Cool Ray (for the record, I have no idea how he fits through doors).

Verizon Center even periodically hosts a mascot game of their own (most recently on January 15th).  So it’s not that mascots acting out is an entirely novel concept.  The air of relaxed celebration at the AHL All Star Game allows everyone to step back, engaging in a casual game of one-upsmanship that takes part over the two days of activities.  It doesn’t hurt that they have the benefit of TV Timeouts during the ASG – something which is not a routine element of minor league games.

In The Crowd:

Mascots do some of their best work in the crowd, and the ASG provides plenty of time to make the rounds.  While most encounters are of the classic “Can we take your picture?!” variety, there’s a fair bit of showboating that goes on as well.

Case in Point: Pucky the Whale (CT Whale) and Max the Lion (Manchester Monarchs) play it up for the Kiss Cam. They were completely ignored, much to the amusement of sections 105-6.

Word of Warning: On occasion, Tux the Penguin (appropriately of the Baby Pens) can get a bit physically affectionate.

Griff the Grand Rapids Griffin questions life, the universe, and everything. Sadly, the jumbotron provided no answers.

On the Stage:

Boardwalk Hall, which played host to this year’s AHL’s All Star festivities, is large enough that the primary stage in the facility was left intact beyond the East-bench side of the rink.  The mascots took advantage of the stage, for a variety of antics – coordinated dancing, pantomime, and of course…

Yes, you've guessed it - Streaking. The offender in question was Chilly, the mascot for the Houston Aeros, who came strolling out in a towel before revealing his tighty-whiteys to the world. (Apologies for the poor quality of this shot, the lighting on the stage area was poor at best)

On the Ice:

The crew in question being hockey mascots, their best moments were to be found on the ice.  During the first intermission of the ASG proper, the mascots held their own game – complete with Buddy the Puffin (of the St. John’s IceCaps) officiating.

Being a good official, Buddy announced a penalty shot after Bruiser (the Hamilton Bulldog) was taken out by Griff the GR Griffin. When Bruiser scored, all mascots in attendance Tebowed.

T-Bone, of the San Antonio Rampage, Tebows in support of Bruiser's goal. Fun Fact: He's the favorite mascot of Dan "Beaker" Stuck, Head Trainer for the Hershey Bears.

After the penalty shot, things began to deteriorate. One of the first matters of taking matters into their own hands happened when Coco (the Hershey Bear) and Max (the Lion from the Binghamton Senators) got into an altercation over a blown interference call.

It was all downhill from there (L to R: Finz (the Worcester Shark), T-Bone, Griff, Chilly, Max (the Monarch), and Tux)

Moral of the Story: Never expect a dog-rabbit hybrid to be an effective goalie (Salty, of the Norfolk Admirals - Correction, this is Hat Trick. Salty is the Dog-Dog, NFK has 2 mascots. Thanks to AdsPrincess08 for the tip!)

A Note of Appreciation:

Mascots tend to get a bad reputation.  Like goalies, the individuals behind the suits often have personalities that are a smidge or two outside of the norm.  Most are athletes in their own right, negotiating heavy costumes and awkward balance problems to run, jump, skate, and make utter fools of themselves for the entertainment of others.

2012 ASG Mascot Photo (Missing-but-Present: Crackers the Parrot, of the Portland Pirates).

Twenty-two mascots were in attendance at this year’s AHL All Star Game, representing 21 of the teams in the league.  While there are 30 teams in the league, the Texas Stars currently have no mascot.

List of the Missing: Chicago Wolves (Skates), Lake Erie Monsters (Sullivan C. Goal), Oklahoma City Barons (Derrick), Peoria Rivermen (Barry), Providence Bruins (Samboni), Springfield Falcons (Screech), Syracuse Crunch (Al the Ice Gorilla) and the Toronto Marlies (Duke).

Further Images: For more mascot images from the 2012 AHL All Star Game, check out the Flickr Album Here.