The fans, though, are delighted by the fisticuffs. "Hey Emerson," one yells out, "you just got your ass kicked by a painter!"

Here in the stands, any shift in the composition of the team is not only unnoticed, but unimportant. Scrotie is still bashing his head against the glass behind the opposition's bench. And the hecklers, as is their wont, are searching for a particularly ripe target on the Emerson team.

"We normally find [a player] who has a genital-related last name," says Matt Kulp, a regular, "that's ideal."

It will be a futile search tonight — Emerson has just numbers, no names, on the backs of their jerseys. But this is a resourceful bunch. "Number two can't get it in," someone yells, after one opposing player has trouble performing in front of the net.

After the game, the Nads are in a fine mood. There is talk of Scrotie's recent appearance at a hot tub party; the coach offers to pay for the first round during the team's traditional post-game visit to Rick's Roadhouse.

I wander out onto the concourse where some of the fans are still gathered and find Kulp leaning against the wall with a couple of friends. "Are you devastated by the loss?" I ask.

"Not really," he says.

David Scharfenberg can be reached at dscharfenberg@phx.com.

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