February 19, 2017
Home game makes everyone a winner
Bam Bam crashed across the crease and jammed the evil orange plastic ball past Kid’s outstretched toe to clinch his side’s 12-10 overtime win in Sunday’s game.
But there wasn’t really a loser.
For the first time in more than two months, the roadsters were able to play a competitive game on the home court. And that made everyone feel like winners.
“It’s good to finally not have to worry about the weather,” said Bam Bam. “I think the guys all felt pretty good today.”
“The enthusiasm level was good,” said Colonel, who was smiling even though his team was on the short side of the score. “It was a lot of fun, a good run. End to end, it was a good time.”
Winter conditions had locked the courts in ice and snow since early December, cancelling a number of games and forcing others to be played at alternate venues. But the freeze up couldn’t fully depart without claiming one last victim, as Lak Attack threw out his back while pushing away the last few remnants of frozen slush; he was scratched from the lineup.
Colonel said it was important for the roadsters to reestablish themselves on the home court, reacquaint themselves with the bounces off the walls and the pace demanded by the small surface.
“It’s great to get a feel for the court,” said Colonel.
Still, the layoff has exacted a toll, said Bam Bam. The roadsters will need to do some work to get their game into shape in time for the Stanley Stick championship series in late April.
“I think it’s very crucial to get some energy and stamina going,” said the feisty forward who was hobbled by a nagging injury.
That wasn’t a problem for Bam Bam’s mates, led by Cleveland and Ohio, who peppered Kid with long shots that found the corners of the net or eluded his glove hand.
“Kid was not struggling on the long shot,” said Colonel. “Those long shots were hard and accurate and they would have gone past any goaltender.”
But when the leaders tried to play a passing game, their scoring touch abandoned them. That allowed Colonel and his mates to climb back into it.
“We did have to take away some of that ball movement,” said the veteran forward. “We just kept coming, we kept cutting into the lead.”
And while they were never able to get back on even terms, a late surge did force overtime to set the two-goal margin for victory. That set the table for Bam Bam’s triumphant play.
“It’s big anytime you can contribute like that, even when your legs are tired,” said Bam Bam.
“There was a lot of skill on the other side, and eventually they won out,” said Colonel.
February 12, 2017
Sun shines on silver season's second half
The roadsters played their first competitive game in two months on Sunday. It may have been the season’s turning point.
Shut down by a series of snow storms and an extended deep freeze that locked the home courts in an inches-thick layer of crusted snow and ice, Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s silver anniversary season seemed in peril. Even a move to a new, thawed facility to kickstart the campaign’s second half was greeted with indifference and ennui.
But with the sun shining and temperatures warming, the roadsters returned, eager to play. Only one problem: the home courts were still frozen despite five days of mild, rainy weather after yet another storm had cancelled last week's game.
Undaunted, the roadsters packed up and headed to the new facility, cleared of ice and snow, the pavement dried by the sun.
Beelzebub, making his first start of the season, said it was important the game go on, even in an improvised way.
“Something like this, a game in the sun, makes you remember what the game is all about,” said the veteran winger who missed the season’s first half with injuries. “It was important to have a good time, have a good competitive game.”
The roadsters were a little more than rusty after the extended mid-season hiatus, said Lak Attack. “It was a bit of a slower game.”
But their enthusiasm to finally play again won the day.
“You’re not going to get a lot of Grade A chances,” said Lak Attack of the sometimes choppy and sloppy play. “You hope to shoot it on the net, get a lucky goal here and there.”
The roadsters were further hobbled by gaps in the fencing that allowed errant passes and shots to frequently skitter out of play.
“It really hurt the continuity of the game, the stopping and starting with all the balls going out,” said Beelzebub.
“You can’t really use the boards in the same way,” said Lak Attack. “It was a bit slower of a game, for sure.”
Although given their eight weeks of sloth, that may have been just the kind of game the roadsters needed.
“The timing will come back, so will the conditioning,” said Lak Attack. “But you can just see by the turnout the guys are ready to go.”
February 05, 2017
Fresh snow sours season again
Winter seems determined to turn Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s silver anniversary season into its lost season.
Just as the roadsters were poised to reclaim their traditional home court from the icy grip that froze them out since early December, another storm buried the concrete surface under a foot of fresh, heavy snow. It’s now been eight weeks since the roadsters have played a meaningful game. And with the opening of the Stanley Stick championship series scheduled for April 23, only 11 weeks away, time is running out for players to get into peak playoff form.
After two half-court scrimmages at a makeshift facility, an extended stretch of warmer weather and even rainstorms had washed away enough of the 18-inches of ice and frozen snow that covered the home courts since a series of storms in December. Only a small amount of shoveling would have been required Sunday to make the courts playable.
But another blast of winter that started Friday and continued through Sunday morning put Sunday’s game on ice, again.
Only Living Legend and Lak Attack braved the conditions in a futile hope the game could go on. Their ardour to play snuffed yet again by the weather gods, they trudged their way home through a heavy flurry.
With more snow expected to fall through midweek, and temperatures staying on the cool side, it could be weeks before the roadsters can return to their familiar environs. Players are advised to check the website and social media feeds regularly for updates on the courts and possible makeshift venues.
January 29, 2017
Sputtering season disappoints veterans
The snow may have turned to rain, but Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s season is still on ice.
It’s been eight weeks since the roadsters slapped the evil orange plastic ball in anger and some of the league’s veteran players are beginning to question the fortitude of its next generation.
“I think they’re about as flaccid as it gets,” said Colonel, one of only four players to report Sunday.
For the second week in a row, the game was forced to an alternate venue as the home courts remain encased in a sheet of inches-thick ice despite a week of warmer temperatures and melting rain.
But Colonel said the temporary venue shouldn’t be an excuse for the roadsters’ sputtering start to the season’s second half. Nor should the chilling cloudburst that drenched the roadsters just as they warmed up Sunday.
“We’ve had crappy weather, but we’ve had crappy weather before,” said Colonel.
The rainstorm didn’t deter Joker.
“We’ve come out in worse weather than this,” said the veteran goaltender. “The roadsters should be able to make it out in any kind of weather.”
Indeed, previous generations of roadsters were renowned for enduring any kind of weather to ensure the game played on. Their lack of resolve to clear the courts after they were covered by the first snowfall in early December contributed to the extended mid-season hiatus as subsequent snowfalls turned to an impenetrable covering of ice and frozen slush during an extended cold snap.
“They don’t understand the work ethic,” said Colonel, a veteran of shovel brigades in seasons’ past. “They grew up in such privilege, always being handed everything on a silver platter… The younger players just want everything handed to them.”
Joker said it's time for those players to prove their mettle. “There are some fair weather players that need to suck it up.”
January 28, 2017
Courts remain ice-locked
Some sections of the road hockey courts are still frozen with an inches-thick layer of ice. So Sunday’s game will once again be played at Fraser River Middle School.
Living Legend, who scouted the courts late Saturday, said most of the surface at both courts is clear, but huge swaths of thick, impenetrable ice remain around the nets at the east end. In fact, the ice is so thick, the gates are still frozen in place.
“Unfortunately, the courts are in the shade most of the day, so the warm sun in the past week hasn’t had much of an effect,” said the fellow founding father.
A few more days of mild weather should take care of the rest of the ice, and diminish the ice mounds on the center court, said the Legend. Then it should take only a modest shovel brigade to return the courts to game condition.
January 22, 2017
New facility fails to lure lazy roadsters
Not even the novelty of a new home court was enough to fire the roadsters up for the second half of the season.
Only five players reported Sunday to the converted basketball court that was one of the few outdoor facilities completely clear of the snow and ice that has kept the road hockey season frozen for the past seven weeks. A week of warmer temperatures and heavy rain diminished the glacial sheet a bit, but the roadsters may be banished from their traditional home court for another week or two until the tundra has melted entirely.
In fact, conditions are so bad at the road hockey courts, they’ve been secured by bright yellow caution tape.
Colonel said the unfamiliarity of the new venue may have tempered the ardour of some of the roadsters to get their game in gear after the extended layoff.
“I think people like what’s normal and comfortable for them,” said the veteran centreman. “I’d say our guys aren’t super good at being outside their comfort zone.”
Nouvelle Guy, who supplied the nets that converted the basketball court to a hockey venue, said he was discouraged by the ambivalence of his fellow roadsters.
“It’s pretty disappointing,” said the versatile veteran. “I expected there would be more people out here, but it is what it is.”
The new facility presented some challenges. While it’s mostly enclosed, the surrounding fence is much lower, allowing more balls to escape play. And the fencing doesn’t quite reach the ground so low rollers had a tendency to slip beyond the game.
But, said the Colonel, it was a more than adequate alternative.
“It’s a nice clear court,” said the feisty forward. “The surface is smooth. It’s a lot of fun running around here today.”
That exercise was a major motivator for Nouvelle Guy.
“It’s been really tough,” said the power forward. “I’ve been wanting to get out on the court. It’s one of the things I love to do.”
The mid-season break that has now stretched to seven weeks for some roadsters is unprecedented. And that could have serious implications as players begin to gear their game for the climactic Stanley Stick championship series in April.
“People are fatter,” said Colonel of the season’s slothful pause. “People don’t quite grasp it’s a lot easier to put a few pounds on than to take a few pounds off.”
Playing consistently keeps players sharp, hones their timing and playmaking, said the veteran. Those skills diminish quickly.
“You lose your hands, you lose your ball skills,” said Colonel, who struggled with some of his deke moves during Sunday’s half-court scrimmage. “It’s best for everyone to be out playing the game.”
Another week of wet, warm weather may still not be enough to thaw out the home courts. The ice is that thick, reported Living Legend after he scouted it on Saturday.
Roadsters are advised to check the website and the road hockey social media feeds for updates.
Twizzler announced he'll miss six weeks beginning in February as he takes an extended sojourn to his ancestral home. With his return scheduled for mid-April, he may still be able to play in the Stanley Stick.
January 21, 2017
BREAKING! Game is on! And on the move.
A week of mild, rainy weather still hasn’t unlocked the road hockey courts from their Ice Age that is now in its seventh week.
So Sunday’s game will be played on the outdoor basketball court at Fraser River Middle School, on 8th Street and Queens Avenue, in New Westminster.
The facility is about the same size as the game’s traditional venue, enclosed on three sides and, most importantly, it’s entirely free of snow and ice, said the Living Legend. He scouted the location on Friday. Nouvelle Guy will be bringing nets.
The Legend said it’s more important to get the season’s second half properly underway.
“The roadsters are champing at the bit,” said Legend, one of the game’s two founding fathers.
“I am raring to play this week,” said Colonel in a message posted to the road hockey media.
The roadsters last played a competitive game on Dec. 4, after which the courts were buried by successive snowfalls then frozen by alternating thaws and deep-freezes. A shovel brigade prior to the Shrimp Ring Bowl on Jan. 8 managed to clear only a third of the playing surface; the traditional start to the season’s second half devolved to a Shrimp Ring Shootout competition.
As cold temperatures persisted, last week’s game was canceled despite efforts to secure a new venue. But they were all still covered with snow and ice as well.
Sunday’s game will be only the third time since Sunday Morning Road Hockey moved to the courts more than 20 years ago that a game will be played in new environs.
January 14, 2017
BREAKING! Sunday's game canceled
Sunday’s game is canceled.
Another week of frigid weather means the courts are still a frozen tundra of ice and snow despite the roadsters’ heroic effort last Sunday to clear a playing space.
Alternate venues are equally encrusted by snow. In fact, one possible destination was buried by a roof that collapsed from the wintry weight.
Other courts that are clear of snow are too far afield to ensure the trip is worthwhile for the roadsters.
“Some of the guys are already coming quite far to play,” said fellow founding father Living Legend in a statement issued Saturday evening. “It would be unfair to ask them to travel even further for what might turn out to be a pretty sparsely attended game anyway.”
The availability status of those courts on a Sunday morning is also uncertain.
“We wouldn’t want to go a long way and infringe upon an already established game,” said the Legend, who recalled a similar drama years ago at the roadsters’ home court.
With temperatures expected to begin moderating on Sunday, and a week of mild, wet weather ahead, the home courts should be ready for game action by next week, said the Legend.
The roadsters last played a competitive game Dec. 4. Two snow storms that week buried the court and made it difficult for many of the roadsters to travel to shovel them clear. A subsequent thaw followed by an extended cold snap then turned the 18-inches of accumulated snow into a concrete-like moonscape of frozen slush and ice that proved a too great a match for shovels and spades.
January 10, 2017
SPECIAL REPORT: Game could move
Sunday Morning Road Hockey may be on the move.
roadhockey.net has learned the weekly game may relocate from its traditional home at the concrete courts if there’s not a significant thaw by Sunday. Current weather forecasts indicate that’s unlikely as temperatures have dipped back below freezing and more snow is expected on Saturday before it turns to rain.
That won’t be enough, as the courts are still largely buried under more than a foot of compacted snow, slush and ice, the legacy of more than a month of wintry weather.
While the roadsters did manage to heroically clear about a third of their court last Sunday, it was only enough space to stage a penalty shot competition.
The roadsters are starving for a real game, said fellow founding father Living Legend. “It’s been five weeks since anybody shot the evil orange plastic ball in anger or the Colonel ran anyone into the fence. That’s too long.”
So, a contingency plan is being formulated that could see the game shifted to a new locale until rain washes away the snow. It would be only the second time in more than 20 years at the concrete courts that a game will be played elsewhere.
One week, in the mid-1990s, a game was moved to an underground parkade during a similar freeze-up. In 2011, the roadsters also opened their season on the road, literally; they played the Wink Classic on the street in front of the fellow founding father’s home as he recuperated from extended health issues.
While the roadsters talked casually about the possibility of officially starting the season’s second half at a new venue as they chopped and shovelled last Sunday, plans are being solidified to make the move a reality if the cold weather doesn’t abate in time.
Stay tuned to roadhockey.net, or the league’s social media channels for further details.
January 08, 2017
Roadsters dig out before digging into shrimp ring
Twizzler scored four times to become the first, and most unlikely, winner of the inaugural Shrimp Ring Shootout on Sunday.
The shotstopping stalwart enjoyed a reprieve from the heavy pads as only one goalie was needed. Twizzler took full advantage as he ripped bullets past his rearguard rival, Joker, high into the top corner, over his glove and through the five hole. It was a remarkable offensive effort against some of the game’s top snipers including Doo, Lak Attack and Scooby, who was making his first appearance at the courts in more than a year.
That the competition occurred at all was a testimony of the roadsters’ resolve to restart the season after a five-week hiatus brought on by extended wintry weather.
“This is the week we were going to get back to playing hockey and you have to take a stand that you’re not going to let anything stand in your way,” said Doo during a break from the arduous effort to chip and shovel away more than a foot of hardened, compacted snow and ice.
It may have been the worst conditions the roadsters have ever encountered at the concrete courts said Lak Attack. A snowfall early in December wasn’t cleared before a thaw and subsequent freeze encased the concrete surface in ice and frozen slush. More snow piled on over the holiday hiatus that was compacted when the neighbouring school reopened.
“This is something we’ve never seen,” said the veteran who’s participated in numerous shovel brigades over his long career. “The amount of snow, and the ice underneath; there’s a lot of challenges.”
But the roadsters were undeterred. Every chunk of snow or block of ice heaved to the side felt like a victory, said Doo.
“They’re doing something impossible. It’s back-breaking labour for a game that we’re probably not even going to be able to play.”
That realization was apparent more than an hour into the clearing effort as the accumulated snow had been removed from only a third of the court, and a thick layer of hard ice still remained.
The shootout contest may not have had the competitive fire of a regular game, but for the roadsters who survived Sunday’s shovelling brigade it still felt like victory.
“It’s great to see,” said Doo. “This is probably helpful for people’s fitness.”
“This is a building block of how badly the guys want to play,” said Lak Attack. “It builds character for the guys… and that’s good for the rest of the season.”
January 04, 2017
SPECIAL REPORT: Hiatus could last as ice lingers
Concern is growing that the mid-season hiatus caused by snow and ice could extend to a fifth and even sixth week.
The season is scheduled to resume Sunday after the two-week holiday break that was preceded by two cancellations because the road hockey courts were encrusted by a thick layer of snow and ice. But an extended cold snap hasn’t allowed the concrete to thaw.
More snow is forecast to fall Friday and Saturday before it turns to rain on Sunday. But with temperatures expected to continue hovering around the freezing level that turn in the weather may be optimistic.
The Living Legend, who has been monitoring the condition of the courts through the wintery weather, said it would take a heroic effort, a lot of shovels, scrapers and salt to get the concrete in game shape.
That is, if the roadsters can get to the courts in the first place. Surrounding side streets are in deplorable shape as well because city works crews were also caught off guard by the chilling conditions and they’ve been unable to recover. The street where the roadsters normally park is a narrow rut of frozen slush flanked by inches of slippery hard-crusted snow.
“It’s pretty rough out there,” said the fellow founding father. “I almost got stuck doing a drive-by.”
But getting the game going again is not beyond the scope of possibility. A similar convergence of precipitation and cold temperatures chilled the middle of the 2008-09 season, putting the game on ice for five weeks over the holiday break. That season’s Shrimp Ring Bowl wasn’t played until Jan. 18, in sunny, mild conditions; but only after two hours of hard labour chipping and shovelling the accumulated ice and snow away.
“It’s pretty bad, miserable conditions,” said Lobsterboy at the time.
“My first reaction was this isn’t going to happen,” said onetime centreman Cowboy Bill.
If the temperatures don’t moderate by Sunday, and the roadsters don’t deal with the ice and snow, the layoff could even extend another week. The long-range forecast is for more snow and cold weather through Jan. 16.
December 31, 2016
Shrimp Ring Bowl could be frozen out
The annual Shrimp Ring Bowl is still eight days away, but the odds against it happening are piling up.
More snow is falling on the road hockey courts, which are a tundra of crusted snow and ice. Only an extended thaw will make them playable, said the Living Legend, who dropped by Saturday to assess their condition.
“There’s about six inches of snow on the court, and it’s so hard you can walk on it,” said the fellow founding father. “It’s beyond the help of a shovel brigade; it would take a pick-axe army to clear it. Or a week of monsoon rains.”
But the weather forecast for the coming week is for continued sub-zero temperatures and, possibly, even more snow by next weekend.
That’s bad news for the roadsters, whose season has been on pause for nearly a month after a series of winter storms buried the courts and resulted in the cancellation of two games before the traditional holiday break.
If next week’s Shrimp Ring Bowl is put on ice, it won’t be the first time. In 2009 the roadsters weren’t able to launch the back half of the season until Jan. 19 after record-setting snow and cold froze the schedule for five weeks. And even then it took a heroic two-hour shoveling effort to clear the concrete.
December 15, 2016
Season on ice until Shrimp Ring Bowl
Sunday's game is canceled.
With the road hockey courts already a frozen moonscape of ice and packed snow, and more snow in the forecast for Sunday morning, commissioner and fellow founding father Living Legend said it's best to shutter the season until the new year.
Warmer temperatures and rain are forecast beginning Monday. And with the league already scheduled to be dark the following two holiday Sundays, that gives plenty of time for Mother Nature to get the concrete surfaces back into playing condition.
"It's a busy time of year anyway," said the Legend. "It doesn't make sense to have people come out only to be disappointed that getting the court playable would require a huge effort."
The next scheduled game will be Jan. 8. It's also the Shrimp Ring Bowl, the roadsters' traditional celebration of the new year. The last game was played Dec. 4.
That means the league will have been dark for more than a month by the time play resumes, which could be good news for fellow founding father Wink, who's missed several weeks recovering from an injury. But he's been at the courts the last two games participating in warm ups and shoot arounds, indicating he's likely almost ready to return to action.
December 11, 2016
The Living Legend may have been overly optimistic.
The fellow founding father was the only roadster to show up at the slushed-in hockey courts Sunday morning, hopeful the game would go on after a vigorous shovelling brigade. It didn’t happen.
Two snowstorms and a week of cold weather had deposited about four inches of snow and ice on the concrete courts. On Friday, the prospects for a game looked bleak.
But when rain rolled in and temperatures warmed, the Legend said he was confident the game could be played. He put a call out for roadsters to report with shovels.
“It would have take us about an hour to get the court in playing shape,” he said. “We’ve done it before.”
Indeed, the roadsters have a storied tradition of digging their way out of adverse conditions to ensure the weekly game could go on. They’re undaunted by torrential rain, bitter cold, snow and ice.
But as conditions improved in the neighbourhood around the hockey courts, the effects of the week’s weather lingered further afield. That may have kept many of the roadsters from committing to a long and treacherous commute. Had they ventured out, they would have encountered trouble parking near the courts, as surrounding streets were still awash with thick and slippery slush.
“We probably would have ended up having to push a few guys out,” said the Legend, who erred on the side of caution by parking along a major thoroughfare that had been properly plowed and salted.
Sunday’s snow-out may reverberate into the new year.
With sub-zero temperatures forecast for the balance of the coming week, the four inches of undisturbed slush and snow on the courts could freeze into a solid block of ice. If that happens, and prevents next week’s game from being played as well, the next time the roadsters convene would be for the Shrimp Ring Bowl on Jan. 8. The league will be dark Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.
“That would make it one month without road hockey,” said the Legend. “I don’t think we’ve ever lost an entire month of a season.”
Warmer temperatures and steady rain have melted enough of the snow and ice to make Sunday's game possible. But roadsters will have to report to the courts with as many scrapers and shovels they can muster.
"It's going to take some work to get the court in game condition," said fellow founding father Living Legend.
The clean up is as much about next week's game. With a cold snap expected for the balance of the week, any softened snow and slush still on the court will freeze into a solidified moonscape of jagged ice that may prove impossible to clear without a prolonged thaw.
"If we clear the court this week, we'll be able to get in some semblance of a game this week and likely next week as well," said the Legend.
December 09, 2016
Sunday's game in doubt
Sunday's game is in doubt.
Two snow storms and a deep freeze have turned the road hockey courts into a moonscape of jagged ice and crusted snow, compacted by the excited stomps of school kids during recess and lunch breaks.
"It looks pretty rough," said fellow founding father and acting commissioner Living Legend. "If we don't get a major thaw on Saturday, I don't think we'll be able to play on Sunday."
While the roadsters have a long history of working to scrape and shovel the court after adverse weather to ensure the game goes on, the Legend said the current condition of the court would take a "heroic effort and a lot of rock salt." Local stores are reportedly out of the melting agent as residents were caught unprepared for the double whammy of snow and ice.
While temperatures are expected to moderate by Saturday afternoon, more snow is forecast for the evening and Sunday.
"A lot of roadsters travel to make it to the game, so it might be unfair to ask them to risk slippery roads when there's no guarantee we can have a game," said the Legend.
Stay tuned for updates posted here, or on the Sunday Morning Road Hockey Twitter and Facebook feeds.
December 04, 2016
Another big loss rattles Joker
Shot early. Shoot often. Get into Joker’s head.
That’s exactly what Bam Bam and his mates did in Sunday’s game; and for the second time in three weeks, the veteran shotstopper stormed off the court in frustration midway through a 20-8 drubbing.
Joker returned. So did the onslaught.
“We tested Joker right away,” said Bam Bam of his side’s dominant play. “We created some chaos and rebounds that Joker couldn’t control and that stirred up his mindset a little.”
In fact, with a lead that grew as large as 11-1, the winners were even able to weather the sudden departure of Colonel, who aggravated an ankle injury he suffered last week.
“They just had too much talent,” said Holt of the powerhouse opposition.
The scoring started quickly and never let up, as the winners used speed, sharp passes and aggressive forechecking to knock their opponents back on their heels.
“We played an all-around team game,” said Bam Bam. “We forechecked well, we back checked well and we had a solid goaltender.”
Indeed, Kid 2.0 has yet to loose since he strapped on the pads to reinvent his road hockey career. Much to the dismay of opposing snipers. Twice he robbed Living Legend on clean-cut decks with his glove hand.
“You’ve got to respect his patience,” said Holt, who was also stymied on several scoring chances. “He’s quiet out there, he’s nice and calm. He takes up a lot of the net.”
That confidence stokes Kid’s teammates, giving them license to press the play forward at every opportunity.
“You know whenever you’re on his side, you’re confident,” said Bam Bam. “We knew we could take our chances, but we didn’t take our defensive responsibilities for granted.”
Well, that’s not entirely true.
A late game sag allowed their overmatched opponents a run of scoring chances that brought the margin as close as nine goals.
“It’s only natural,” said Bam Bam. “You get a big lead like that and you get a little complacent.”
But they were able to shake their stupor and close it out with three straight goals.
“They realized we were getting some chances,” said Holt.
Not that Bam Bam and his mates were ever really worried.
“The game was pretty much over by half time,” he said.
December 01, 2016
Holiday schedule announced
Sunday Morning Road Hockey will go on a two-week hiatus to celebrate Christmas and New Year's. Both holidays fall on a Sunday.
The last game of 2016 will be played Dec. 18. The schedule resumes Jan. 8 with the annual Shrimp Ring Bowl. That game will not only celebrate the first game of the new year, it's also the birthday of one of the league's founding fathers, the Living Legend.
November 20, 2016
Tidal wave of goals drowns Joker and mates
A tidal wave of offense sent Joker fleeing for shore and his team wallowing in a 15-7 defeat.
The veteran shot stopper gave up seven straight goals to turn a 5-4 lead at the first intermission into an 11-5 deficit that rendered the end result inevitable.
“I’m not sure why we fell apart,” said Joker. “The other team started getting odd man rush after odd man rush; it was crazy.”
The scoring assault started and ended with goals by the Living Legend, who tallied five on the day. But the winners really found their stride when power forward Bam Bam began crashing the corners and driving hard to the net.
“It’s one of those things when you feel like you can score all the time,” said the veteran winger who seems to have finally shaken the persistent cold that dogged him through the season’s early weeks. “I think we did a really good job peppering our shots from every angle. Our passing was crisp and that allowed us to transition quickly.”
Too quick for flat-footed defenders as their commitment to pick up checks waned when the score started piling up.
“It was like a tidal wave,” said Joker. “They just kept coming… and it’s tough to come back when they’re scoring the same kind of goals every rush.”
Bam Bam said his side was emboldened by another solid performance by Kid 2.0, who is still undefeated as he continues his reinvention from offensive dynamo to goaltending juggernaut.
“He’s got all the confidence in the world,” said Bam Bam. “He makes simple saves, he redirects the rebounds and covers them up. He makes it easy on the defence.”
With little to worry about on the backend, Bam Bam and his mates, Colonel and Cleveland, were able to wheel quickly up court. As the goals started to go in, they smelled blood in the water.
“Any time you go on a run like we did, the game’s momentum shifts,” said Bam Bam.
Frustrated by his team’s inability to stem the tide drowning them, Joker stormed angrily off the court after he surrendered the 15th goal.
“It’s tough not to get down on yourself,” said the steamed creaseminder. “But you win as a team and you lose as a team. You’ve just got to bounce back, shake it off.”
November 13, 2016
Luck beats skill in overtime
A little luck can neutralize a skill advantage. A lot of luck can beat it.
Sunday, a run of unlikely but very friendly bounces propelled Lak Attack and his mates to a 16-14 overtime win over a team built on the skilled stick work of Cleveland and Dice.
One of those bounces was an otherwise wild shot from the far end of the court that caromed off Hoss’ foot past a befuddled Twizzler. It was that kind of day.
“We definitely got the bounces early,” said Lak Attack of his side’s good fortune that helped them overcome a 5-4 deficit at the game’s first break. “When you get those lucky bounces, you’re feeling confident and you’ve got the give and go to tee it up a little bit and go for the offence.”
“It’s a different game if we didn’t get those bounces, honestly,” admitted Joker, who spent the game’s early moments mesmerized by some of the deft stick work on display by newcomer Dice, including a patented mid-air scoop-around that finally beat the keeper on his second attempt.
Indeed, the deadly duo of Dice and Cleveland seemed poised to dominate Sunday’s game as they worked the give and go to build an early advantage.
“They were a fast team,” said Lak Attack.
“They could turn it on at any moment,” said Joker.
But then came the bounce off Hoss’ foot and the game’s momentum shifted. Buoyed by their good fortune, the hard-working scrappers kept the pressure on. Seeing-eye shots found their way through Twizzler’s pads, dribbled past his toes.
“We just stuck to our plan and got the goals,” said Lak Attack.
“You’ve got to have the breaks going your way,” said Joker, as his team built a lead that grew to three goals.
A late surge of rapier goals by the trailers closed the margin to one goal and sent the game into overtime.
“They kept coming on, but I thought we did a pretty good job containing their legs,” said Lak Attack.
It was a lead too far, as Hoss ended it.
“It feels pretty good,” said Joker of his side’s fortunate victory. “Especially with the amount of talent they had on their team.”
November 06, 2016
Veterans outlast upstarts 10-4
They’re old. But they’re also wily.
Colonel and his veteran linemates, Lak Attack and Living Legend, used their years of experience and road hockey guile to weather a slow start before rolling to a 10-4 win in Sunday’s game.
The senior forwards never panicked despite repeatedly missing passes and squandering scoring opportunities in the game’s opening moments. It took a few reassuring words from the Colonel to get them on track.
“We weren’t getting the ball through and the game just kinda stalled,” said Colonel. “We decided to pass across the court horizontally and that really worked for us.”
That simple piece of advice sparked his aging teammates.
“It’s just a matter of taking your time,” said Lak Attack. “I think we started to spread them out a bit more and that provided some quick goals for us.”
The veterans’ patience to find their game wasn’t lost on the victim of their scoring prowess, Joker.
“These gentlemen have been playing together for such a long time. They know where each other is going to be, there passes are all spot on.”
A pair of young legs to spell off the wearying oldsters didn’t hurt either, said Colonel of the team’s fourth forward, Bam Bam.
“When one team has a sub and the other team has no subs, it makes an enormous difference,” said Colonel. “You’ve got much fresher legs over the course of the game.”
Bam Bam’s power game also gave the veterans the kind of aggressive presence they needed to battle larger opponents like Nouvelle Guy and Hoss in the corners and at the top of the crease.
“It’s hard to move them out, it’s a bit of a challenge,” said Lak Attack.
“You’ve got to try to run around them and not through them,” said Colonel.
Still, the score could have been a lot closer had it not been for the goaltending heroics of Kid, said Joker.
“Nothing below the waist was going to get past him today,” said the fourth-year shot stopper of his newfound foe.
“He doesn’t give up any rebounds,” said Lak Attack. “It lets us run and gun a bit more, take a few chances.”
And when those chances turned into odd-man rushes, the goals started to come.
“We had to pass around them and bury our chances,” said Colonel.
October 30, 2016
Kid's crease comeback confounds combatants
It’s been so long since Kid last strapped on the goalie pads, he almost forgot how.
By the end of Sunday’s half-court game, the rest of the roadsters may have wished the comeback creaseminder wasn’t wearing any equipment at all as Kid made several stellar saves to rob scoring chances from both teams.
“I don’t think we got many rebounds,” said Bam Bam, whose side fought back from a three-goal deficit, squandered their own lead then won it 10-9 with a seeing-eye shot by Ohio in sudden death. “You’ve got to credit Kid; he kept us guessing.”
“He was moving well,” said Lak Attack. “He was picking up the shots and he was tracking well.”
Kid, who’s returned to the courts this season after a years-long hiatus, was a surprise starter. The upstart backstop said he couldn’t even remember the last time he’d played net.
That sent opposing forwards aquiver with anticipation of a prolific day.
“We knew we just had to get lots of shots, test him out,” said Bam Bam. “We tried that, created traffic, went for rebounds.”
“You’ve got to get lots of shots on him, challenge him early,” said Lak Attack. “You’ve got to let him know he’s not in for an easy game.”
Instead, it was those forwards who got a reality check.
The veteran lineup of Lak Attack, Colonel and Wink used their big shots to soften the neophyte netminder and establish an early advantage.
But Bam Bam and his mates used some ball luck and nifty passing to battle their way back.
“It’s all about momentum,” said the power forward. “I think we got some lucky breaks and momentum was on our side.”
That momentum, and some wearying veteran legs, forged them into a three-goal lead of their own.
“We lost our legs in that second half for a bit,” said Lak Attack of his side’s mid-game swoon.
But the underdogs were wary. They knew the veterans wouldn’t go quietly without a battle.
“With half-court games, you’ve just got to keep it close,” said Bam Bam. “We knew they were going to come back.”
The veterans battle back from a 9-6 deficit with three straight goals before Bam Bam redirected the Living Legend’s cross-crease pass right to the stick of Ohio, who buried it past Kid.
“it’s disappointing,” said Lak Attack of his side’s sudden setback. “We were close, but they buried their chances at the end.”
October 16, 2016
Quick shots a winning recipe in regular season opener
Colonel’s languid attempt to wrap a shot around from the back of the net past Joker’s outstretched pad late in the game may have been the longest anyone on his team possessed the ball Sunday.
And while he didn’t score on that play, the wily veteran and his mates used quick crisp passes and timely shots to overwhelm their opponents 15-10 in Sunday’s regular season opener.
Playing without the benefit of a spare player to shift off for refreshed legs, Colonel and his mates kept the pressure on all game by keeping the evil orange plastic ball moving, even if their feet weren’t. That kept their opponents on the run, and Joker on his heels.
“Our passes were a little crisper, our shots were a little faster,” said Colonel. “Sometimes all you need is that extra split second and they go in as opposed to not going in.”
Joker admitted he had trouble tracking the ball at times as it moved quickly back and forth between the opposition’s stick blades.
“They were one-timing shots, and we were taking our time.”
The up-tempo playmaking was rewarded by a quick 5-2 advantage. But Colonel and his mates were wary to keep the pressure on.
“We came out pretty fast, but we learned pretty quick the game would go on for a while,” said the veteran centreman. “We had to keep our noses down and take chances when there were opportunities.”
Joker said his side’s man advantage may have kept their legs fitter but dulled their mental sharpness. Knowing they might be able to outlast their opponents in a longer game, played hung onto the ball, made the extra pass, moved the ball around the court more before taking a shot.
“We were taking our time,” said Joker. “We were accepting the pass and then setting up to shoot as opposed to shooting right away.”
That gave Lak Attack ample time to set up for saves. And, but for a brief lull in the second period, he was equal to the task.
That lull coincided with the underdog’s renewed effort sparked by Joker’s temper tirade after successive goals stretched the lead even further. Kid, Bam Bam and even a pair by the Living Legend pulled the underdogs to within a goal, 10-9, at the second break.
But that was as close as they got.
Sunday’s game was played on a slippery, wet court after a weekend of rain and wind. But the persistent drizzle and pools of water behind each goal was a fitting launch pad for the Sunday Morning Road Hockey ’s silver anniversary season. After all, the league has endured through all kinds of difficult weather over the years.
“After a weekend of torrential rain and wind, we’re all out here, sweeping the court, having a great time,” said the Colonel, who’s beginning his 18th season in the league. “It’s a great sense of community and camaraderie. People love the sport for the pure fun of it.”
Even newer players like Joker have quickly recognized and appreciated the unique qualities that have allowed the league to attain its milestone season.
“It’s the same group of guys that play hard every week,” said the seasoned shotstopper, embarking on his third campaign. “They know they can leave it all on the court at the end of the game.”
October 09, 2016
Lak Attack's return to crease "like a magic trick"
Lak Attack hadn’t played net since February. Sunday, it was like he never left.
The journeyman veteran, who was usurped from his backup goaltending role when Twizzler returned for the second half of last season, reclaimed his place between the pipes with authority in the final tune-up for next Sunday’s regular season opener. He made numerous showstopping saves for both teams to force the half-court game into sudden death 7-6.
Afterward, Lak Attack said he was eager to make a big impression in his return to the net. He expects he’ll be called upon to strap the pads regularly as Twizzler’s status for the coming campaign is in doubt after he tweaked his injured knee late last season.
“It was a good tune-up for myself,” said Lak Attack. “I tried to stay closer to the net, use more economy of movement, cover my angles well.”
He did that and then some, after spotting a team of wily veterans including Wink, Living Legend, Colonel and Kid with an early lead.
“Lak is a big body in the net,” said Colonel. “His positional play was really good today. He made some good horizontal movement across his crease. He was tough to beat.”
Especially as Sunday’s game wore on. The veterans seemed to lose their touch around the acrobatic shotstopper while their opponents started to chip away at their deficit.
“When you’re out there in the half-court game, you’ve got to play the walls a lot more,” said Holt, who returned to the lineup after he missed most of last season to pursue educational opportunities.
With a little more overall speed and agility than their aging opponents Holt and his mates, Big D, Nouvelle Guy and Cleveland, started cashing in the opportunities they were able to create by forcing a fast transition from defence to offence.
“I think our legs just went away from us a little bit,” said Colonel, who was in the lineup for the first time Sunday. “People came to run.”
Still, both teams found it hard to solve Lak Attack.
“I started to get into a bit of a groove,” said the veteran backstopper. “The half-court game is always a bit different because guys get open more, the shots are quicker, so you just have to be prepared.”
“It was like a magic trick all day,” said Holt of the goaltender’s ability to make the evil orange plastic ball disappear into his equipment.
October 02, 2016
A tale of two goalies: Dr. Joker and Mr. Hyde
Joker’s goaltending was a bit of a horror show on Sunday. Dr. Joker and Mr. Hyde to be precise.
The veteran shotstopper put in a schizophrenic performance in a pair of half-court games to kick off training camp for Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s silver anniversary season. He could barely stop a beach ball en route to a 10-2 rout in the first game. But after stripping down his cumbersome jersey he was lights out in the second to lead his side to a 5-1 win.
The contrasting contests weren’t lost on Joker.
“The first game I just want to forget about,” said the beleaguered backstop. “I knew I was going to play better in the second game.”
Indeed he did. While rebounds eluded him easily in the opener, he hoovered them in the follow-up. That frustrated shooters who’d thought they’d have an easy start to the season.
“I think Joker did well at motivating himself and bouncing back in that second game,” said Bam Bam.
He could hardly do worse as Joker struggled to regain his touch for the evil orange plastic ball after a long, inactive off-season. Playing a half-court game that demanded his full attention on both teams proved too big a challenge.
“You’re doing twice the work while you’re getting rid of the cobwebs,” said Joker. “You have to stay focussed.”
But Joker shook off his slow start as easily as he shed his hockey jersey. Time and again he made multiple saves as defenders fatigued. And when a shot did elude him, he quickly bounced to his feet, prepared to face the next onslaught.
“If you let in a bad goal, you just have to stay focussed and bounce back,” said Joker.
Bam Bam said the offensive players wore down as the games wore on, their off-season sloth catching them out.
“You’ve always got to keep your legs moving,” said the feisty forward. “There’s no delaying anything in the half court game.”
Sunday’s pre-season games launched Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s silver anniversary. The quarter century will be celebrated with an open invitation to all roadsters from the past to show up for a game as well as blasts from the past on social media.
Early in Sunday’s first game, a bit of unfinished business from last season was concluded when Wink was presented with his first Wink Award. The special trophy is awarded to the roadster who plays with the most dedication and perseverance. It was inaugurated when Wink was forced to step away from the game he helped build to deal with a difficult health issue.
With his health now better, Wink was able to play his way back into the lineup regularly last season. So it was only fitting he should receive his namesake award.
September 20, 2016
Silver anniversary a season-long Heritage Classic
Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s milestone silver anniversary will be a season-long Heritage Classic.
Beginning with the opening of training camp on Oct. 2, through to the final regular season game in April, any roadster who’s felt the sting of the evil orange plastic ball off their shins on a Sunday morning will be welcomed to join the regular weekly game at the venerable court that has served as the league’s home base for most of its 25 years.
That lineup includes illustrious stars from the league’s formative years like Goaltending Stalwart Wawrow, Scooter, Teal Stick, Philderama and Sexboy through to renowned veterans like Lobsterboy, Sniper Dave, Lumberjack, Paul One and Hired Gun.
As players respond to the open invitation to recapture their road hockey glory, the game’s current generation will be able to connect to the league’s storied past, said fellow founding father, the Living Legend.
“Every player who’s stepped into this court and been granted a nickname has helped build the game to where it is today,” he said. “There’s not a lot of road hockey games that last this long; everyone deserves their moment.”
Sunday Morning Road Hockey began in the fall of 1991 when a group of local media colleagues placed some boots at either end of a tennis court and chased around the evil orange plastic ball for exercise. They had so much fun, the games became more frequent, and players started inviting friends and friends of friends. The original media contingent was joined by teachers, engineers, students, a social worker. It was hard to keep everyone’s name straight, so they were issued nicknames.
The game’s formative years were restless, moving from the tennis court to a lacrosse box before finally settling in at the concrete hockey court on the roof of an underground parkade behind a newly rebuilt elementary school. It’s been there ever since, a staple of the neighbourhood’s weekly routine.
One spring someone showed up with a broken hockey stick wrapped in tinfoil and declared it the prize for the season’s final game, the Stanley Stick. Eventually it became a proper trophy with a bowl for chugging champagne.
Other traditions evolved; the Shrimp Ring Bowl to welcome the new year, a midsummer game to renew acquaintances during the off-season.
Generations of players have come and gone. Some succumbed to time pressures and growing family obligations. Some lost interest or invested their energy in other sports. Some moved away to pursue their education or new job opportunities; a legendary goalie is now a sports reporter for the Association Press in Buffalo; another charter player, Sweater Vest, is the communications director for the Mayor of Los Angeles; a more recent recruit was elected to Parliament in the last federal election.
Some years attendance has been better than others. When the commitment of players flags doubt creeps in about the game’s continued existence. But then a new recruit shows up; he tells a couple of friends and renewed life has been breathed back into Sunday mornings.
It’s hard to say how many people have played Sunday Morning Road Hockey over the years; some stopped by just once and moved on before they could ever be bestowed a nickname, a few have been chasing the evil orange plastic ball for two decades or more. But all will be welcomed at the court to renew acquaintances and make new ones, in the enduring spirit of the league.
Sunday Morning Road Hockey training camp exhibition games will be played Oct. 2 and 9. The regular season opens Oct. 16.
August 18, 2016
Summer scrimmage takes twin twist
It took 25 years, but Sunday Morning Road Hockey has found its doppelgänger.
The midsummer scrimmage to launch the league’s silver anniversary season took a twin twist Wednesday when a new band of roguesters claimed the centre court as their own. But with two goalies suited up and barely any players, they’d be hard pressed to execute a proper game.
The roadsters, on the other hand, had the opposite dilemma; more than enough players but no goalies.
A merger was negotiated.
The roguesters, it turns out, are no upstarts. Though new to the concrete court they’d adopted as their summer home, they’ve been together almost as long as the Sunday Morning roadsters, playing indoors every Wednesday night at various community centre and school gyms.
Like the roadsters, the roguesters span generations; their goalies are pushing 60 years of age. They play a spirited game of pick-up, randomly changing the teams every week. They value sportsmanship and camaraderie.
They are, in effect, Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s midweek, indoor twin.
“It’s kind of fun to play with some players you’ve never played with, see what they’re like,” said Colonel of the mirror match. “I thought it was fitting for a summer game. We had a fun time.”
In fact, it may even be a portent for a special season to come, said Beckenbauer.
“I think the culture is one of the greatest things about the league,” said the veteran centreman who missed much of last season because of a knee injury. “It keeps you coming back.”
Another harbinger of the coming season may also have been the unexpected return of Kid, who hadn’t played regularly since 2011. Beetle Boy also made his annual summer appearance to spark speculation about yet another aborted comeback.
“I think it’s fantastic to see guys out we haven’t seen enough of,” said Colonel.
“It’s good to see how you match up against some of the old faces,” said Beckenbauer.
On a night that could have been a letdown, the roadsters were buoyant when the advancing dusk finally made it impossible for the goalies to see the evil orange plastic ball.
“Twenty-five years is a huge milestone to build on, it’s not often you do something for that long,” said Colonel. “It has the potential to be a memorable year.”
For the roadsters. And their indoor doppelgängers.
August 03, 2016
Summer scrimmage launches silver season
The gala silver anniversary season of Sunday Morning Road Hockey kicks off Aug. 17 with the annual Midsummer Scrimmage.
The early pre-season encounter is a fun chance for the roadsters to stretch their legs and test their creaking joints. It’s also a showcase for scouts to assess goaltending prospects for the coming season which looms closer with every passing week.
And this season promises to be special, as Sunday Morning Road Hockey celebrates 25 years of the sting of the evil orange plastic ball.
Founded in the fall of 1991 as an informal pick-up game on the expansive tennis courts at Queen’s Park, the league has evolved into a beloved weekly institution that has exercised and entertained generations of players. And while only two of the game’s original founding players remain, Living Legend and Wink, the spirit and camaraderie that were forged in that inaugural game endure.
Face-off at the hockey court is 7 p.m. and the game goes until the goalies can’t see the ball anymore.