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After midnight, Wranglers fans in party mood

Monkeys riding dogs herding sheep on the ice.

That ambitious act was supposed to headline last year’s midnight Wranglers hockey game at Orleans Arena. When they didn’t show – something about being signed in the summer and getting cold paws over the prospect of performing on the ice – many of the midnight ramblers in attendance booed and grew more restless than they already were.

The fun-loving fans then proceeded to prematurely pelt the replacement performer – a “magician” who tried to escape a straitjacket to the tune of “YMCA” – with foam Chuck-A-Pucks. It was the funniest moment of the night/morning.

In case a full-blown riot broke out at Monday’s 10th annual midnight soiree at the Orleans, we decided to document it for you in a running diary.

Lip-syncing lounge singer Tony Clifton – a fictitious character created by late comedian Andy Kaufman – was spared being bombarded by Chuck-A-Pucks by the crowd of 3,277, but only because he came on after the contest during the second intermission.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

11:59 p.m. Sunday – The ECHL game between Las Vegas and Bakersfield was slated to start at 11:59 p.m. Sunday to clear up any confusion over what day it was. I’m confused as to whether a woman walking up the steps of Section 118 with a plate of nachos is wrapped in a blanket or a Snuggie.

12:02 a.m. – Bearded man wearing shorts, Crocs and an Ogie Ogilthorpe Syracuse Bulldogs jersey from “Slap Shot” saunters to his seat. Classic.

12:07 a.m. – Former “Phantom of the Opera” actor Ben Hale, sans mask, belts out a stirring rendition of the national anthem. He might have shattered a few cocktail glasses.

12:10 a.m. – Puck is dropped for the game billed as “Black Out with the Wranglers,” who surprisingly wear white and red instead of one of their 374 signature specialty jerseys. Bakersfield is wearing black. Go figure.

12:27 a.m. – Wish I could black out what I just saw: two Wranglers superfans sitting next to visitor’s penalty box decked out in red spandex body suits and Santa hats. One is sporting a black Speedo. Hope that’s all he’s sporting.

12:32 a.m. – Las Vegas goalie Mark Owuya makes a stellar save. Owuya, a Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, and forward Scott Pitt make their Wranglers debuts in the midnight game. Both must be wondering what they have gotten themselves into.

12:40 a.m. – Local product Chris Francis scores late in first period to give Wranglers a 1-0 lead.

12:47 a.m. – Black carpet rolled out to center ice for Clifton, who tells a few off-color jokes – “Why does Mike Tyson cry after sex? The mace is gonna do that to you.” – before breaking into a taped rendition of “Rhinestone Cowboy.”

We have no idea why he’s lip-syncing, which is as bad as his wig and fake ‘stache. Maybe it’s part of the act, but nobody seems to get it. “You suck!” one fan yells.

Woman dressed like Daisy Duke comes out riding miniature stick horse. It’s Clifton’s only saving grace. Booed as he walks off, he returns to the spotlight and keeps singing. He repeats this three times before leaving for good. That was actually kind of funny.

12:56 a.m. – Take a walk on the concourse, where I see an older couple decked out in bathrobes and slippers – he in a purple Crown Royal robe and black moccasins, and she in a pink robe with red hearts and fluorescent green slippers.

1:08 a.m. – Pitt makes it 2-0, and the first “We want tacos” chant is heard. If the Wranglers score five goals, everyone in attendance gets a free taco.

1:22 a.m. – Redman superfan in Speedo casts an imaginary hook and reels in Condors forward Parker Stanfield to penalty box.

1:34 a.m. – “No Sleep Till Tacos” song played in the style of “No Sleep Till Brooklyn.” Wranglers forward Adam Huxley fights Condors forward Brett Lyon, salutes adoring crowd as he leaves ice for locker room. Ogilthorpe is pleased.

1:39 a.m. – Pitt completes hat trick for 5-0 lead. Tacos for everyone. Does that mean we can sleep now? Only drama left is whether Clifton gets KO’d by a flying puck.

1:46 a.m. – Unfortunately, Chuck-A-Puck starts before Clifton.

1:50 a.m. – Clifton returns and is summarily booed. “Bring back Chuck-A-Puck!” one fan yells. An incredulous elderly usher asks, “Who the hell brought him in?”

Clifton is bailed out by a lingerie-clad woman as he syncs “That’s Life” before being booed off for the final time.

2:05 a.m. – Take a quick cruise around the concourse, where I’m handed a packet of “personal lubricant” and a 20-percent off coupon to an “Adult Emporium.” Family entertainment at its finest.

2:17 a.m. – Crowd sings along to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” boos when song is cut short and game resumes.

2:21 a.m. – Guy who did “Gangnam Style” dance stands up and waves to crowd when ad for Wranglers’ team dentist is played. Who knew?

2:22 a.m. – Condors spoil shutout, prompting “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” to be played.

2:40 a.m. – Game ends. Fans give Wranglers standing ovation, move party to nearest Del Taco.

2:45 a.m. – Interview coach Ryan Mougenel, who cracks open a beer and says, “I think this team probably does its best work after midnight.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354.

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