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CRISIS IN VEGAS: AHL Silver Knights game shutdown due to COVID protocols

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A pregame look at Orleans Arena on Saturday, when the AHL exhibition between the Henderson Silver Knights and San Jose Barracuda was suspended after two periods (PHOTO: W.G. Ramirez)

LAS VEGAS — Two days after the Vegas Golden Knights were shut down, their American Hockey League-affiliate Henderson Silver Knights were impacted by COVID protocols.

In accordance with the AHL’s COVID-19 protocols, Saturday’s exhibition game between the Silver Knights and San Jose Barracuda was canceled just before the third period started.

“Please note, this cancellation was not due to a positive COVID test result from Silver Knights players or staff,” the team said in a postgame statement.

Thursday’s game between the Golden Knights and St. Louis Blues was postponed. Vegas remains in protocol, whil the NHL is taking additional time to analyze COVID-19 test results. Per a report in the San Jose Mercury News, the San Jose Sharks – who own the AHL’s Barracuda – did not comment Saturday.

Holding a 1-0 lead Saturday at Orleans Arena, the Silver Knights had just skated on the ice with the Barracuda for the start of the third period when they were removed.

Henderson personnel moved swiftly from their stations, tending to equipment from the benches and ice, the refs converged on the side to discuss, a determination was made and from there it was protocol-mode.

Henderson, which beat San Jose, 7-3, in Friday’s exhibition opener, added it will provide details for the coming week’s activities “when appropriate.”

The Silver Knights are scheduled to open the AHL season against the Ontario Reign on Saturday at Orleans Arena.

Vegas’ series with the San Jose Sharks that was scheduled for Monday and Wednesday in Glendale, Arizona, was postponed by the NHL on Friday.

General manager Kelly McCrimmon said at least one member of the Golden Knights’ coaching staff tested positive for COVID-19, while newest Golden Knight Alex Pietrangelo has been on the league’s list of COVID protocol-related since Thursday.

Four members of the Golden Knights, including three coaches, are being isolated in connection with the League’s COVID Protocol.

Silver Knights coach Manny Viveiros and at least one other staff member were in a suite near the top of Orleans Arena on the red line while observing NHL COVID protocols. Viveiros and assistants Jamie Heward and Joel Ward were on the bench for Vegas during Tuesday’s 5-4 shootout loss to the Blues and are avoiding contact with the AHL club.

One level directly beneath were members of the team’s communications staff. Other members of the franchise sat on the opposite side in a far corner. Several members from the different stations were quick to disperse, clearly tending to their roles in such a crisis.

Former Golden Knight defenseman Deryk Engelland coached Henderson in its first two games.

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[…] Jose Sharks have been cancelled this week, and the Henderson Silver Knights were pulled off the ice two periods into an exhibition game against the San Jose […]

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Silence no more: Blue Man Group member Marc Roberts loving new role as Silver Knights’ Town Crier | VHN+

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Marc Roberts, who portrays Herald the Town Crier during Henderson Silver Knights games, plays his trumpet before announcing the goal scorer at a recent Silver Knights game at Orleans Arena. (Photo courtesy: Henderson Silver Knights)

Marc Roberts has spent over 20 years performing in silence. Well, silence in voice, at least.

One can’t call being a member of the Blue Man Group silent, per se.

Since moving to Las Vegas from the midwest in 2003, Roberts has been one of many to don the blue body paint and bald cap. He’s brought joy to plenty a patron from his playing of drums, to splattering colored dye onto those front and center at the Luxor.

This time, Roberts is trying something different. His newest gig requires the use of an instrument, but not the percussion apparatus he’s been accustomed to.

Rather than drums, Roberts now possesses a trumpet; one that’s as tall as him, and that perfectly encapsulates the hilarity and obnoxious manner that has brought his new persona, Herald the Henderson Town Crier, to life.

“To get to use my voice and talk to people, and go to a different area I never got to go with Blue Man, it adds a layer of a challenge that is so exciting,” Roberts said in a phone interview with Vegas Hockey Now. “I haven’t gotten to use a stage voice in so long, I’ve got to get some honey in my throat before games to make sure my throat doesn’t go stale.”

Roberts, who hadn’t played the trumpet formally since seventh grade, is the man responsible for setting AHL Hockey Twitter, and Southern Nevada Twitter for that matter, ablaze with magnificent content.

After every Henderson Silver Knights goal at Orleans Arena, Herald has one important duty: scurry down seven rows of stairs where a microphone awaits him. Perched next to this mic is the aforementioned brass instrument.

Herald takes his place under the spotlight, removes his mask — because even in medieval times, social distancing matters — takes a large breath, and plays the horn to proclaim that there is an announcement to be made; that a goal has been scored by a ‘Sir’ of House Henderson.

It’s about as random as it sounds. Then it actually happens, and you find yourself hoping the Silver Knights score again to allow Roberts to do his thing.

“It’s so far out there that you’re like, ‘the first thing I’m going to do is ground it. I’m going to give Herald physicality, give him life,'” Roberts said. “He’s going to live in between the goals. He’s going to live in between the games. This is a character that you’re going to see and you’re going to know.

“I’m not sure what he does at his house, but I know it’s something along the same lines of the dramatic effect of announcing a goal. Like, his morning routine will be very specific and very loud.”

Courtesy: Henderson Silver Knights

The Origin of Herald

From the moment the Silver Knights became official, the Vegas Golden Knights’ entertainment division went straight to work.

Weekly meetings were held. Vegas’ AHL affiliate was going to play its first two years at Orleans Arena before moving to the Henderson Events Center on Paseo Verde Parkway. The task was to try and make it as fun of an experience as you’d see at Golden Knights games.

Despite the uncertainty of when the AHL season would start, ideas kept pouring in; some even pushed to next season.

One idea that had to happen on opening night Feb. 6: Herald the Town Crier.

“We got through the first two preseason games, and I saw [Golden Knights vice president of communications and content] Eric [Tosi] walking the concourse after the game on [Jan. 30],” said Ayron Sequeira, the team’s executive director of entertainment experience. “He looked at me and said, ‘we need the town crier.'”

Roberts initially auditioned to be the Silver Knights’ in-arena host. That position was filled by Bojo Ackah, on-air personality for hip-hop station Q100.5 FM. Despite that, Sequeira wanted Roberts to be involved.

She called Roberts and thought Herald would be the perfect role for him. Roberts laughed and then said yes.

The in-arena host has to have a sense of improv, and that’s what impressed Sequeira during Roberts’ audition.

“Marc was so good with the little details,” she said. “I knew him from his performances at T-Mobile [with BMG]. To see him audition as a host, and to see his personality and to see how he is at improv, he’s an incredible performer.”

Fast forward to the first week of February, and everything was in place for Herald’s debut, except for one thing: the scroll.

Sequeira scrambled two hours before puck drop to find a scroll. She called everywhere, from prop houses to Hobby Lobby. Nothing. Then she looked to her right, placed on a seat inside Orleans Arena; the team ribbons displayed on the empty seats.

Just like that, Herald had his scroll, and he was off.

“Welcome to minor-league hockey,” Sequeira said.

The role of improv

Trying to get a scroll together wasn’t the only challenge that night. Roberts’ approach when he announced a goal modified each time.

Take, for example, Jake Leschyshyn’s first goal in franchise history at 1:41 of the second period. Roberts walked to the mic, played the horn, and announced the goal.

But there were no royal titles or ‘House Henderson’ at the end of his proclamation.

“In between moments where I’m standing up, shouting, and in between the period breaks, I’m thinking of physicalities,” Roberts said. “I’m thinking of ways to just round it out.”

When he went back upstairs and met with Sequeira, they enjoyed it, but Roberts felt he could’ve done more. After some slight thinking, Roberts told Sequeira, “I should call them lords.” And then said, “I should say House Henderson.”

Thus, at 4:29 of the second period, “Lord Jake Bischoff of House Henderson!” scored a goal.

Less than nine minutes later, Dylan Sikura scored the third goal of the period for Henderson. Roberts hurried down the stairs, jazz hands and all.

He removed his mask, took a breath, and let out one of the most hilarious staccato-like sounds from a horn ever heard this side of the Mississippi. It had the feel of, “damn it, I have to announce this again,” but turned into a build-up of not knowing what Herald will do next.

“He’s already so ingrained in me, that the level of improv and the level of reality a lot of times are riding in the same moment,” Roberts said. “When I came down there, it was almost an exasperating, ‘another one! OK! Hmmph! OK, here we go!’ Like I’m about to eat a turkey leg or something up there.”

During the intermission, after some research, Roberts discovered that they’re not called lords, but rather ‘sirs.’ That led to ‘Sir Danny O’Regan’ scoring at 18:02 of the third period.

“The human inside my head is saying, ‘let’s make sure we get the name right, let’s make sure you’re in the right spot, let’s blow a proper toot,” Roberts said. “And the other side of it is, ‘none of this rift raft now! Let’s get going! Come on! We have a duty!” I’m fighting inside my head with Herald himself, who is taking over my consciousness.”

It’s also the little things in his appearance. Like when Peyton Krebs scored his first professional goal the following game, Roberts came to the microphone with a much larger scroll than what was previously used.

Roberts made 11 goal announcements in two home games. As time went on, Herald kept setting up shop.

“Every time I walked down there, Herald just got a little more real estate in my conscious mind,” Roberts said. “He’s got a big red chair ready to go in my mind, he’s got banners up. He’s got this own personal system in my head.”

Courtesy: Henderson Silver Knights

“This is just the beginning.”

Herald is just one component of many the Silver Knights hope to unveil this season.

Clark County is allowing 15 percent of fans to attend Golden Knights games beginning March 1. That also goes for Orleans Arena allowing 1,425 fans.

The first Silver Knights home game with fans would be March 18 against the Stockton Heat.

An inaugural season without fans isn’t ideal. The Silver Knights are using this time, however, as a work-and-go situation to figure out what works from a production standpoint.

“We’re still putting out a great product from our side, but we’re also taking advantage of the fact that we can make mistakes that won’t go noticed because we don’t have fans,” Sequeira said. “We’re thankful, kind of, to try and find the positives in this situation.”

This could be a warm-up time, too, for Herald. But such a man with his boisterous personality doesn’t believe in trial and error.

“I don’t think Herald has error in his mind,” Roberts said. “Even if Herald stumbles down the stairs, that’s what he’s meant to do. He believes in his duty to the team, so much so, that if he has to announce relish coming on a hot dog, that needs to happen at that moment.”

Sequeira said plans are in place when fans arrive.

The team plans to unveil the Henderson Jesters, their version of a hype squad. There will also be people doing balloon animals, as well as freestyle dancers for your entertainment. Sequeira added there will be an entity similar to the Golden Knights’ drumline, the Knight Line, but it won’t be a drumline.

That could be debuted this season but will more than likely be moved to 2022.

“It’s important for people to know that we’re doing the best we can with what we are all facing as an organization,” Sequeira said. “We’re all facing this pandemic and things are constantly changing and evolving. We’re thankful and really grateful that we get to give people an opportunity to escape their reality for a little while.”

As for Herald, he will debut a new costume Wednesday when the Silver Knights return home to face the San Diego Gulls. What, praytell, could this costume look like?

“The only thing I’ll say is, when I’m coming down the stairs, it’ll have some whip to it,” Roberts said. “People will know when I pass them.”

Hopefully, that’s not the only thing. Some have suggested that Herald — the closest thing we’ve had this century to a character in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” — be followed with the sound of clacking coconuts behind him.

Nevertheless, it’s been a collaborative effort between Roberts and the Silver Knights’ entertainment team. They’ve only scratched the surface for what they, and Herald, can become.

“The whole staff has been so incredibly supportive. The amount of potential of opportunities they’re going to give Herald, it’s exciting,” Roberts said. “The ideas they have, the windows that happen within a game, the moments that can happen, this is just the beginning.”

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Henderson Silver Knights

No crying here: Silver Knights win inaugural game against Reign

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Jake Leschyshyn scored the first goal in Henderson Silver Knights history at 1:41 of the second period.

It was an important goal; it tied it 1-1 with the Ontario Reign and was the building block for Henderson winning their inaugural game, 5-2 at Orleans Arena on Saturday.

Suddenly, in the distance, a bugle hits a loud enough forte over a microphone seven rows down from the top. Surely, this is the doing of the PA announcer readying himself to announce the historic goal.

Yet it is the sound of a man who came straight from the depths of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” to let all the subjects in attendance know the happenings.

“GOAL SCORED BY LORD JAKE LESCHYSHYN OF HOUSE HENDERSON.”

“Honestly, I was really confused at what was going on at the start,” Leschyshyn said of the Henderson Town Crier. “It was just all part of the fan experience without fans, but it was pretty funny.”

It was new, exciting, and might’ve been the greatest thing ever done in a sports game. But it was a fresh, unique perspective that was nothing new from the Vegas Golden Knights organization.

Yet even in an arena with no fans — a good 50-100 people in the building working the game on this night — it was as close to making it feel like a packed house than it could’ve been.

“I thought it was a really good hockey game,” said Silver Knights coach Manny Viveiros. “It was pretty wide open. I’m sure both staffs weren’t completely happy about that, but it was a very entertaining game.”

The product on the ice was just as good. After Rasmus Kupari scored 43 seconds after Leschyshyn’s tally, the Silver Knights put four unanswered goals on the board. Jake Bischoff tied it 2-2 at 4:29, and Dylan Sikura made it 3-2 at 13:05 of the second.

Goals came in bunches, much to the exhaustion of town crier homeboy after the Sikura goal.

It’s a new name in a new city, but the Golden Knights’ AHL affiliate still has the makings of a team that can make a Calder Cup run. While the majority of those on that 2019 Chicago Wolves club have since graduated (Cody Glass, Nic Hague, Zach Whitecloud), the Silver Knights have plenty of young talent that can inject excitement into the minor-league club.

Look no further than 2019 first-round pick Peyton Krebs scoring his first professional point on Danny O’Regan’s first goal with 1:53 to go. Krebs, who would’ve been with Winnipeg of the WHL under normal circumstances, did not seem intimidated for a 19-year-old playing in his first professional game. He drew two penalties in the first 3:30 of the game and could’ve had a bigger scoring night if not for a couple of bounces. Even Jack Dugan, the former Hobey Baker finalist, had an assist in his first pro game.

“I thought they were outstanding,” Viveiros said of Krebs and Dugan. “Both those guys have played at high levels of hockey before. These kids have been on a big stage before. They weren’t fazed at all, and I was really happy with how they play.”

Tack on a 29-save night from Logan Thompson, who has looked good since the onset of training camp, and it was a stellar night for the Knights of Silver.

Orleans Arena is a great placeholder home for the Silver Knights until the Henderson Events Center opens its doors two seasons from now. It certainly has a homey-feel to a minor-league hockey team that’s seemingly capable of hosting an AHL team. But if the ECHL comes back around in the near future, they’ll at least have a suitable home.

The Silver Knights conclude their two-game set against the Reign on Monday. Rest well, town crier. You earned it.

Danny Webster is the newest reporter and columnist for Vegas Hockey Now. Follow him on Twitter @DannyWebster21.

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Henderson Silver Knights

Silver Knights coaches expected behind Golden Knights bench Thursday

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Kelly McCrimmon was the acting coach for Vegas on Tuesday against the Blues.

The Henderson Silver Knights coaching staff might get another chance behind the NHL bench.

Silver Knights coach Manny Viveiros expects he and his staff to fill in for Pete DeBoer and coaches when the Vegas Golden Knights host the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.

“We’re assuming that tomorrow we’re going to be on the bench,” Viveiros said.

Viveiros, along with assistant coaches Joel Ward and Jamie Heward, served as assistants for Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon.

The Golden Knights announced near 4 p.m. Tuesday that “out of an abundance of caution,” DeBoer and his staff would self-isolate due to potential COVID-19 tracing. McCrimmon confirmed after the game, a 5-4 shootout loss for Vegas, that a member of the coaching staff tested positive.

No players, nor other coaches, tested positive.

Henderson practiced Wednesday at Lifeguard Arena with Viveiros, Ward and Heward watching from a balcony. Due to NHL protocols, the coaches are not permitted to be near their AHL players.

Viveiros said veteran center Patrick Brown and the Henderson training staff ran practice and will do so Thursday when the Silver Knights practice at Orleans Arena.

“Sometimes, it’s good to watch up top because you see everything,” Viveiros said. “I was very happy with practice. I thought it was really clean, the quality was really good, and the pace was excellent. These guys are professionals. They want to get better every day, and they put the time in.”

It’s not every day an NHL game is practice for the AHL group, but it was in this case. Viveiros will make his AHL coaching debut Friday in a preseason game against the San Jose Barracuda.

That’s eight days before Henderson’s inaugural game, at home, against the Ontario Reign on Feb. 6.

The situation will be similar; no fans in attendance, maybe pumped-in crowd noise, with skates and sticks being the most distinctive sounds.

“It was the first time being in a live game for our staff for almost close to a year,” Viveiros said. “First and foremost, our job last night was to help and support in any possible way we could with the Golden Knights. Pete DeBoer and his staff did a wonderful job under trying circumstances.

“That team was fully prepared last night. The players were outstanding as far as what they have to do. For us, we were there in a support role. The gameplan was laid out for them, they knew exactly what they had to do, and we were there to help in any possible way when needed.”

The Golden Knights play the Blues at T-Mobile Arena on Thursday before hitting the road for two against the San Jose Sharks, but not at SAP Center in Northern California.

Vegas returns to Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, to face the Sharks, their temporary home until mid-February when they can return to San Jose.

As of now, it’s unclear if DeBoer will be available for his first game against the club that fired him in December 2019. Viveiros expects to coach Friday’s preseason opener, but as Tuesday’s situation proved, much can change on a dime.

“That’s not why we put our American Hockey League affiliate in Henderson, Nevada, but certainly it was a godsend [Tuesday],” McCrimmon said. “I can’t thank their staff enough. … When they went to the rink this morning in Henderson, they sure wouldn’t have expected this is how their day would play out. It’s a real fortunate stroke of luck that we’ve got our team right here.”

Danny Webster is the newest columnist and reporter for Vegas Hockey Now. He is the Golden Knights beat writer for NHL dot com. Catch him on Twitter @DannyWebster21

Welcome to your new home for Vegas Golden Knights breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and don't forget to subscribe to VHN+ for all of our members-only content the entire Vegas Hockey Now crew plus an ad-free browsing experience.
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