In case you missed it, the legend of the rally catfish added another chapter over the weekend.
With the Nashville Predators down 3-1 to the Dallas Stars in American Airlines Center, it looked like the Preds would suffer their first road loss of the season. Entering the 3rd period, the Preds needed a spark.
That spark came in the form of something normally reserved for Bridgestone Arena: a catfish thrown on the ice.
The spark worked like a charm, but who were these road catfish heroes? Who brought a catfish with them all the way to Dallas? And why did they wait til the 3rd period to chuck it?
Just another typical group project
Last Saturday’s road catfish crew consisted of several students from nearby Southern Methodist University. The trip was part of a birthday celebration for one of their crew, George (seen below, wearing the Fiala jersey), and it was a thoroughly planned, detailed operation.
“I planned this out two months ago, when we got the tickets,” George said over the phone earlier this week. Buying ten tickets for the Preds-Stars game and inviting his friends for a birthday celebration was all part of the plan, but the real goal was clear: “I just really wanted to throw a catfish on the ice.”
After buying a locally sourced catfish and storing it in a freezer for about five days, the first task was to sneak the catfish into the arena. Charlie (pictured above, with the gray hoodie and gold t-shirt) decided he had the body type for such a task, so he volunteered.
Many layers of duct tape and saran wrap later, Charlie was ready to smuggle the catfish into enemy territory. The wrap-job was successful as the crew made it through arena security with no problems. “I pretty much just looked like a bigger version of me,” Charlie said.
Communicating over a group message app, the group used not-so-subtle coded phrases to refer to the operation. Once the catfish was inside the arena, one member sent the following alert to the group: “Package secured.”
“Alright guys, I’m ready.”
Transferring a catfish from the smuggler’s body to the ice is as complicated as you might think. That thing is strapped on with many, many layers of tape, so it takes some time to unwrap. Charlie remembers being in the bathroom stall at the arena removing the catfish.
“I was frantically taking the wrap off. It smelled awful, I thought for sure somebody was going to say something. Then I walked out of the bathroom with a catfish in a gift bag.”
As George and his catfish crew waited for their moment to toss the fish, there was plenty of worry about getting caught before the throw. “It is a miracle we didn’t get caught, I was freaking out,” Charlie said.
Which begs the question: why wait so long to throw the catfish?
George and Charlie cited not wanting to get kicked out of the game too early as the main reason, but the rest of the crew also knew there had to be a symbolic reason to throw the catfish. You don’t just throw a catfish on the ice at a Preds game just any old time.
“We were waiting for a good moment to throw the fish. We gotta wait for a goal, or something,” Lawson said. “But the Preds weren’t looking too good. We were starting to get worried. When are we going to throw this fish?”
“Then we all kind of agreed. Right before the 3rd period starts, we are throwing this fish on the ice.”
Charlie remembers preparing for the throw. “I was practicing this toss, I was going through the motions.” Then it was time, “Alright guys, I’m ready.”
PREDS ML 💰 💰💰
Hats off to our fallen soldiers for the Rally Catfish pic.twitter.com/d5xFkIjs2R
— The Press Express (@pressdontstress) November 10, 2018
(FYI, that video above gives you a nice view of the actual toss.)
With the catfish on the ice, many Preds fans in the arena cheered. Most Stars fans looked confused, then started booing.
Meanwhile, on the ice, the game changed on a dime. Ryan Johansen scored 20 seconds into the 3rd period to make it a 3-2 game. Then Yannick Weber tied up the game soon after.
Eventually Roman Josi would tie the game again in the final minute of regulation, and Mattias Ekholm would score the game winner in overtime to secure the Preds’ comeback win.
While the Stars and their fans were dealing with a blown lead on their home ice, two members of the catfish crew were dealing with the consequences of their actions. “You’re gonna have to come with us,” a member of American Airlines Center security said.
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) November 10, 2018
That’s Lawson and Charlie being questioned by arena security and the Dallas Police.
Authorities varied in their level of concern over the situation. One arena official was livid, citing “breach of private property” and suggesting legal action. A Dallas police officer had a more lighthearted approach.
“Boys, you brought that catfish in here, I ought to take my belt out and whip you with it.”
When asked by Dallas Police who it was that actually threw the catfish, Lawson replied, “We all threw the catfish.”
Shades of Spartacus.
It soon became clear that there wouldn’t be an arrest made, but there would still be a punishment. At the arena’s security office, the crew was given their sentence: a six month ban from American Airlines Center.
“Holy [expletive], we didn’t get arrested,” Lawson remembers saying to Charlie outside the arena.
I suppose the most disappointing thing for this brave catfish crew is that they didn’t get to watch the dramatic comeback unfold in front of them. That’s the price you pay as the rally catfish tosser on the road.
“None of this would have been so cool if the Preds hadn’t come back from a 3-1 deficit and win it in overtime. I like to think it was the catfish.”
— Featured image Shanna Lockwood/USA TODAY Sports —