SUN Hockey Pool

Dressing room

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 11:38 AM ET

No luggage, no problem for Kerry Fraser.

Although he arrived for last night's Edmonton Oilers game without a single piece of equipment - including his skates and jock strap - the veteran referee made it to centre ice for the opening face-off thanks to an incredible effort behind the scenes.

"The (Oiler staff) was phenomenal. They bent over backwards," said Fraser in his dressing room after the tilt.

IN CANCUN

After baggage clerks in Cancun somehow forgot to place his equipment bag on a plane on Thursday, Fraser walked into Rexall Place yesterday morning and was practically adopted by the Oilers training staff.

By game time the laundry list of equipment was long and bizarre:

- Jock strap - provided by the Oilers.

- Underwear - provided by the Oilers

- Skates - a used size seven pair from Professional Skate shop in Edmonton, heat-fitted just before game time.

- Pants - from linesman Mark Wheler; hemmed by Oilers head equipment manager Barrie Stafford.

- Shin pads - from Oiler assistant coach Charlie Huddy.

- Elbow pads - Wheler's spare pair.

- Helmet - provide by Pro Sport.

- Sweater - Every NHL city has an extra head-referee jersey, but this one was designed for a 200-pound official. Fraser practically swam in it at 162 pounds.

"And I wear contact lenses to work. I had my prescription - and we were able through the (Oiler's) ophthalmologist to give me a sample pair," explained Fraser.

"I told my wife that I hoped she had a good time (in Cancun on holidays during the all-star break) but never again ask me to take a trip during the season."

It marked just the third time in his 30-year career he arrived for a game without anything to wear.

"One time they sent my bag to Atlantic City instead of Quebec City," he remembered.

"I lost one in the World Cup in 1996. It never made it to Sweden but it caught up to me in Finland.

"And tonight it was Cancun.

"Maybe it is the international travel I have to avoid."

And he was just thankful the players avoided running over him last night.

"For the first five minutes (of the game) you are off balance," he said.

"I went to both coaches during the first stoppage and I said: 'Listen, tell your D (defencemen) that I am not very mobile yet on these skates. So, I am just going to be a statue, a pylon and they go around me.'"

SOMEBODY'S SKATES

After surviving the ordeal, Stafford simply applauded Fraser.

"For anybody skating at this level, it is very difficult to wear somebody else's skates," he remarked.

"Only a veteran like himself could have got through that.

"He did a great job."

On the positive side, his bag was apparently located in the Cancun airport and shipped to Edmonton last night.

It was supposed to arrive at his hotel after the game.

"There might be some cockroaches (in it)," he cracked. "I am hoping the cold weather takes care of them."Fraser is due to leave Edmonton today for an assignment in Vancouver tomorrow.


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