Sunday, October 10, 1993 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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The Nhl -- Disney Magic Ends When Ducks Take Ice


ANAHEIM, Calif. - The famous Disney magic lasted exactly 2 minutes, 34 seconds. Then hockey reality arrived.

After weeks of hype and a wild 20-minute pregame show, Disney's Mighty Ducks expansion team finally had to take the ice Friday night - and the Ducks had barely broken a sweat when the fun ended.

The Detroit Red Wings beat the Ducks 7-2 in the team's first game, dominating every aspect of play. By game's end, the few thousand fans still remaining in the Anaheim Arena booed the team's rock 'n roll minstrel act and watched listlessly as their team played the same way.

Red Wing defenseman Aaron Ward scored first at 2:34, as Detroit outshot Anaheim 20-7 in the opening period. Keith Primeau scored twice for the Red Wings and had an assist.

Both Anaheim goals were scored on two-man advantages. When the teams skated at even strength, they were hardly evenly matched.

"We were caught up in the hoopla," Duck Coach Ron Wilson said. "We hoped it wouldn't happen, but it did. We appeared very tight. We didn't skate, we didn't hit. We were standing around, watching."

It's too bad the Ducks weren't watching the pregame show, because it was far more entertaining than the game they played.

In typical Disney fashion, the 17,174 spectators were treated to an elaborate opening ceremony that featured a flying mascot, a squadron of skating cheerleaders, fireworks, smoke and a retooled version of the song "Be Our Guest" from "Beauty and the Beast" with new hockey themed lyrics.

"It made the game interesting," Red Wing forward Ray Sheppard said. "It's their first game, so they're going to be looking to put on a show."

Before the game, fans swooped up piles of Mighty Ducks merchandise and the arena roared with the inharmonic sounds of thousands of duck calls, given out free to the opening-night crowd.

While the team's new unnamed mascot - which looks like the Michelin Man with a beak and a tail - was a huge hit, a glittery guitar player strolling through the crowd bombed. When he tried to do a version of the pop hit "Break it Down Again" with the Ducks trailing 6-1, he was drowned out by catcalls.

When one fan used the arena's scoreboard to ask his significant other to marry him, she was encouraged by a chorus of loud "No's" to reject the offer.

The Decoys, the team's on-ice cheerleaders, were more popular, especially when they abandoned graceful Ice Capades choreography for slightly more salacious moves.

Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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