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STYLE & CULTURE

Recipe for Duck

For the hockey team's highflying fans, it's all in the preparation.

May 27, 2003|Scott Sandell | Times Staff Writer

Sure, the Mighty Ducks have played hockey at the Pond in Anaheim for a decade, mixing strength, speed and head-banging on ice. But did anyone pay much attention to these historically hapless puck-chasers until the Lakers left the basketball playoff picture? In true Southern California style, the real fan frenzy didn't kick in until the Ducks were on their improbable skate to the Stanley Cup Finals. The games are sold out now, naturally, but earlier this season, attendance was nothing to shake a stick at, with home games resembling a "maroon-seat-cover convention," as Coach Mike Babcock put it.

To join the Ducks' bandwagon, you don't have to know what the "blue line," "icing" or a "five-hole" is; leave that to the true aficionados. Nor do you have to know some of the Ducks' more infamous off-ice moments, such as when the team mascot got stuck 50 feet in the air while descending on a wire for a pregame show in 1995, or when actress Lucy Lawless revealed some inadvertent, um, decolletage as she sang the national anthem in 1997. Leave that for the historians.

No, the best thing you can do to be prepared for Game 1 of the best-of-seven series starting tonight in New Jersey, is to have the proper accouterments. The essentials for newcomers:

Western Conference championship hat

In hockeydom, the hat does not merely sit on your head. If a player scores three goals in a game, you throw it on the ice to celebrate the "hat trick" -- a magical moment that also makes you wonder how the money you shelled out disappeared so quickly. Cost: $20

Jersey

No self-respecting hockey fan or rap star leaves home without wearing a team "sweater," so-called because the garment was once made of knitted wool instead of today's synthetics. Just make sure no one pulls it over your head during an altercation, or serious injury can result. Cost: $80 to $270

Fowl Towel

You don't wave this to surrender; you wave it over your head to spur the Ducks on to victory. It's a tradition that started in the Vancouver Canucks' arena years ago and migrated south -- kind of like you-know-what. Plus, it's a lot less messy than the Detroit Red Wing fans' practice of sneaking in dead octopuses to throw on the ice for luck. Cost: Free at games

Duck call

Perhaps the most aurally annoying device ever conceived to show one's approval at a sporting event -- until the advent of Thunder Stix (see below). Kids are particularly fond of blowing the duck calls; experienced parents know to buy ice cream, popcorn, anything to keep the kids' mouths otherwise occupied. Cost: $10

Pond Rocker

Fans of the World Series champion Angels had their red Thunder Stix last year; Duck boosters have white Pond Rockers. Same concept, but far more assaultive. After all, the Ducks play in an enclosed arena. Upside: You can use them to fend off the Ducks' team mascot, Wild Wing, if he gets a little overstimulated from all those duck calls. Cost: Free at games

Stanley Cup

Hockey's Holy Grail. Professional players won't get near it, much less touch it, if they are still in pursuit of the Cup for fear of a jinx. But fans need not be so coy. Cost: Purchased for $48.67 in 1892

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