October 01, 2014

Season opens Oct. 12

It's time for the roadsters to put away the craft beer. Or maybe start drinking more of it.
Training camp is just over a week away. And the regular season begins anew a week later.
If the summer scrimmage is a harbinger of the season to come, it looks to be a promising campaign. A record number of roadsters reported for the annual evening tilt.
Unlike previous scrimmages, the game also featured some genuine action and quality goaltending, both of which have been occasionally lacking the past few seasons.
This will be Sunday Morning Road Hockey's 23rd season.

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August 21, 2014

Turning up the heat in midsummer scrimmage

For some of the roadsters, Wednesday's midsummer scrimmage was little more than a chance to renew old acquaintances.

For others, it was an opportunity to spark new rivalries for the upcoming season.

For everyone, it was an early indication of their pre-season fitness and desire to win.

And if the pace and competitive zeal of the casual evening encounter are any indication, the upcoming season could be a barn-burner.

Colonel unleashed his patented rapier shot, scoring from the far end of the court at least once, to lead his team to a 15-10 win in the twilight tilt.

He may have approached the game with a laissez-faire feel, but there's no doubt he wanted to win.

"It's good to get a game like this out of the way early," said the veteran forward, still basking in the glow of last spring's Stanley Stick championship sweep.

"You're not saving yourself for anything," said Yak of Wednesday's feisty encounter. "It's everybody's wake-up call."

Lak Attack, who once again donned the pads, said he was impressed with the competitive nature of play.

"It gets you tuned up," said the versatile veteran. "I think you're going to see a very competitive season from the get-go."

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August 11, 2014

Summer scrimmage set

The weather may still be summery, but it's time for roadsters to get their head in the game.

The annual Mid-Summer Scrimmage will be played Wednesday, Aug. 20 at the courts.

The game is a chance for the roadsters to blow the dust off their equipment, reacquaint themselves with the sting of the evil orange plastic ball and, perhaps most importantly, test their off-season fitness.

The game begins at 7 p.m

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April 28, 2014

Champions defy disadvantages to sweep

With the road hockey gods seemingly aligned against them, Colonel knew his team would have to strike quickly if it hoped to complete a sweep of the Stanley Stick championship series.

They did just that.

Beckenbauer scored on his side's first shot and the champions never looked back en route to a 20-9 win in Sunday's decisive game.

The apparent bad mojo for the favourites started even before Sunday's game, when scoring sensation, Holt, who led his side in goals in last week's series' opener, announced he'd be unavailable for the finale. The potential for problems was then compounded when veteran sniper Doo, who had missed much of the regular season, was ruled eligible for the championship and gifted to the underdogs.

"We wanted to go out quick and build from there," said Colonel, who won his second straight Stanley Stick. "You don't want to give the other team any momentum."

The strategy worked. The champions scored three times before the underdogs were able to reply.

And while the advantage never got as large as last week's 12-0 chasm that buried the underdogs, playing from behind for a second consecutive week took derailed their gameplan, said Bam Bam

"We wanted to take advantage of a quick start, but they got those first few goals on us and we had to fight back from behind," said the feisty forward. "That takes a toll on you."

The under-manned favourites didn't let their disadvantage get them off their game.

"We just kept to our game, kept it simple and boxed them out," said Lak Attack. "We were patient and that was key."

Also critical was the outstanding two-way play of Beckenbauer, who contributed a handful of goals and was a defensive stalwart every shift. That earned him the Conn Stick award as the series' most valuable player.

"It was because of him we got that quick lead," said Lak Attack. "He really stepped it up."

"He's smothering in the defensive end, he was able to hit the corners, he has a hard shot," said Colonel. "He deserved the MVP."

Beckenbauer's germanic gamesmanship also neutralized any boost the underdogs might have received from the injection of Doo into their lineup. While the wiry winger was his side's leading scorer, he wasn't the difference-maker some expected.

"Doo brings a lot of skill and gave them a little more mobility and offensive talent," said Lak Attack.

But Doo wasn't the answer to some of the underdog's problems that plagued them in the series opener.

"The one thing you hope for is you can find some sort of chemistry," said Bam Bam. "We dug in deep and tried to battle as much as we could, but nothing clicked."

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April 21, 2014

Rout fails to rouse confidence

His team just won Sunday's Stanley Stick opener 20-5, but Lak Attack wasn't yet putting the champagne on ice.

That's because after nearly three hours of road hockey, the veteran centreman knew his side had been in a battle.

"It felt like it was a 20-18 game," said Lak Attack. "We carried the play, but they made it tough."

Indeed, the line score told only part of the game's story.

With a strong lineup of skilled players and big bodies, Lak Attack and his mates scored the game's first 12 goals before their opponents could answer. The barrage chased starting goalie Chico, who showed some rust from his extended absence from the crease this season as he pursued educational opportunities and familial responsibilities.

The displaced keeper went on to score three of his side's goals, but that contribution wasn't about to sway their fate.

"The score line isn't flattering for our team," said Bam Bam. "But we can take comfort that we did some things right and the bounces went their way."

Despite their insurmountable advantage, Lak Attack said his team wasn't about to take the margin for granted.

"You never know, the other team can always make a big comeback," said the versatile veteran. "We still felt like it was a one-goal game. We just made every shift count."

And they'll need to continue that kind of attention to detail this Sunday in the series' second leg if they're to clinch the silver chalice and avoid a decisive mini-game.

"The next game won't be the same," said Lak Attack. "Next week you'll see a much closer game."

That's the plan, said Bam Bam.

"We just have to be confident to get to the mini game," said the feisty forward. "That's all that matters."

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April 14, 2014

Stanley Stick roster released

The list of eligible players for Sunday's Stanley Stick opener has been released. If all the players report, each team will have two complete lines, plus a goaltender. That could be crucial in the often long and gruelling matches that have become a touchstone of the annual year-end tournament that culminates the road hockey season.
The Stanley Stick is the only time in the season when teams carry over from one week to the next.
This year's Stanley Stick roster also features a wealth of goalies, with no fewer than four available to strap on the pads.

Eligible players:

Lak Attack
Living Legend
Bam Bam
Nouvelle Guy

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April 05, 2014

Yak attack snuffs comeback

Yak's laser shot to the top corner over Twizzler's shoulder was the difference in a tight 15-14 sudden-death victory Sunday.

The rapier blast snuffed a valiant comeback by the day's underdogs, who overcame a manpower disadvantage and a four-goal deficit late in the game to force it to a decisive goal.

"It's scary when you're up four goals and they start creeping back," said Yak of his determined opponents. "They were showing a lot of heart and we were showing a lot of fatigue."

In fact, both teams were weary as a dry court for the first time in weeks gave the roadsters a chance to air out their legs without fear of slipping and tumbling to the hard concrete.

"It's a game-changer when the courts are dry," said Colonel. "It brings out the best in all the players."

But even his side's best couldn't keep swing the game to their favour early on.

After giving up the game's first goal to Living Legend, who returned to action after missing the past two weeks, Colonel and his mates struggled to get on track. Only the precision accuracy and quick release of the new guy's sizzling shots that resulted in a bushel of goals for the late-season call-up kept them in it.

"He's got a good shot," said Yak of the Joker recruit. "It's accurate and low to the corner. He knows where to shoot."

Playing from behind most of the day takes its toll, said Colonel, whose side finally took their first lead of the game at the second break, 10-9. But they couldn't hold it.

Lak Attack said his side let their manpower advantage lull them into complacency.

"I think we just let off the gas pedal too much," said the veteran centerman. "The guys kind of slowed down. We took it for granted and they just chipped away little by little."

Yak said his side started reeling as they let their lead slip away.

"When they score a lot of goals in a row, you start to doubt your own ability to score," said the veteran speedster. "It's important to get one in and get your confidence again."

Which is just what he did.

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March 16, 2014

Chico gives his men confidence

Some key saves early in Sunday's game gave Chico confidence in his first goaltending start in months. They also assured his team he could take care of business at the back end while they converted their scoring chances in the offensive zone en route to a 10-5 win.

Facing a team comprised of wily veterans keen to redeem themselves after last week's lacklustre representation of their generation, Chico saw a lot of orange plastic. But at the break, he'd yet to let one get past him as his side held a 5-0 advantage.

"We had a system and we stuck to it," said the comeback creaseminder. "I got a lot of permitter shots, a lot of bouncy stuff, but nothing we couldn't handle."

And whenever his defenders headed up court, they were able to make the best of their scoring opportunities.

"They were in our end the whole time, but we were able to convert," said Holt.

Not willing to go off into the rainclouds quietly, the veterans fought back gamely after the break, closing the score to within two, 7-5. But the effort took a toll, as they wheezed up three straight goals.

"There's a lot of swings to this game," said Chico of his side's ability to regroup. "We knew we just had to stick with what we'd been doing, play the chip, play the transition game and take shots on net."

They did, due in no small part to Chico's steadying play in their own net, said Holt.

"We had total confidence in him," said the slick sophomore. "We didn't ever worry about our goalie at all."

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March 09, 2014

Attack fizzles after Lak leaves

Colonel didn't want to use Lak Attack's early departure as an excuse for his side's 10-5 loss in Sunday's game.

But when his side gave up six unanswered goals after holding a 5-4 advantage when the veteran speedster had to excuse himself, there was no avoiding it.

"We really slowed down when we lost Lak," said Colonel.

Not that they were going very fast in the first place.

With both Lak Attack and Living Legend making their way back into action from extended illness, and Colonel paying the fitness price for missing a couple of games, the side of wily veterans were lucky to have a man advantage and a lead half way through the game.

Both disappeared when Lak left.

"Even though they had the extra sub, we thought we had the momentum on our side," said Bam Bam, of his overmatched opponents. "They were a bit gassed."

And more than a little frustrated.

Despite holding a narrow lead at the break, the veterans had to battle hard to get there and that may also have taken a toll. Twizzler, making his first goaltending start in weeks, cast aside his reputation for slow starts by making a number of key saves early in the game. That gave his mates the confidence to press deep into the offensive zone and capitalize on scoring chances to take the early lead.

"We were more attack-minded in the beginning," said Bam Bam.

The veterans battled back gamely and took their first, and only, lead of the game at the break.

"Tizzler was a wall out there today," said Colonel.

With that assessment in their back pocket, Bam Bam and his mates knew it was only a matter of time until they held the upper hand. For good.

"One goal down with our speed and skill, we knew we were going to come back and win it," said Bam Bam.

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March 03, 2014

Slush fun

It's not quite snow.

Most roadsters would agree it's worse than rain.

Sunday a handful of hearty players braved a slush storm that left the courts slicked and sloppy.

Survival, said Yak, was foremost in their minds.

"It's just a matter of when you might slip and fall," said the shifty centreman whose trademark quick cuts and fancy footwork were neutralized by the precarious conditions.

"You're always mindful of how hard you're going to go."

The second game to be scuttled in as many weeks by unseasonable weather only weeks from the official start of spring, the roadsters were especially careful not to risk injury as the season enters its critical run-up to the Stanley Stick.

"It does shake your confidence," said Yak. "You don't want to fall. It's tough to go hard."

But mostly, it was tough to battle along the boards, especially behind the nets, where semi-frozen slush and chilled water accumulated inches deep.

"It's always fun to go into that hard," said Yak. "You've got to make sure you're ready for it."

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February 16, 2014

Twizzler deals decisive blows

Lak Attack is used to staring down Twizzler from opposite ends of the court. Sunday, the veteran forward turned goalie was turned inside out by the wily goalie turned forward.

Twizzler, who's taken advantage of the arrival of Joker as a regular rearguard to stretch his legs as a forward since his return to the lineup in January scored a handful of goals to lead his team to a 16-11 win.

Two goals in particular seemed to take the wind out of the opposition's sails and shake his facemasked foe's confidence.

"Twizzler kinda changed the game with those long range shots," said Lak Attack. "Once you let one in, the flood gates opened."

And while a five goal margin is hardly an apocalyptic deluge, Bam Bam said the timing of Twizzler's cannonading markers threw his side for a loop.

"He brought that big shot out today and we hadn't really seen it," said the speedy centreman. "It caught a few of us by surprise."

Until those goals the teams had regularly exchanged leads in a freewheeling, fast-paced back-and-forth game. Twizzler's offensive outburst staked his side to their first three-goal advantage. They never looked back.

"It was up for grabs," said Bam Bam of the hard-fought battle that started on a dry court but ended in a steady, cold shower. "Once those long-range shots go it, you can only ask a goalie to do so much."

And while Twizzler's slappers may have been the game's death blow, the slicking of the court by a late shower pretty much ensured there would be no miracle comeback.

"It had an impact on our guys," said Lak Attack. "They like the dry court so they can get in tight."

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February 09, 2014

Coming back from the brink

A slow squibber by Holt that squeezed between Joker's pad and the goal post capped a furious three-goal run and clinched a 10-9 sudden death victory in Sunday's game.

It was a fitting finish for a team that had earlier squandered their own advantage.

"They pushed really hard early to come back, and that turned to our advantage later in the game," said Lak Attack of the game's shift in fortunes.

That's because Bam Bam and his mates may have blown themselves out clawing their way back from an early deficit.

"Whenever you're trying to catch up, you're using more of your energy," said the feisty forward. "Maybe that's why we didn't have more at the end."

Still, they had enough to charge ahead 9-7 in a half-court game to 10 as Bam Bam, Yak and Living Legend finally found the chemistry that had eluded them earlier. But they couldn't get that next goal to finish their opponents off as Joker came up with some key saves.

"If I'm getting better every week, I'm happy," said the rookie rearguard.

Despite teetering on the edge of defeat, Lak Attack knew his team still had a chance to win.

"We had the edge on the endurance part of it," said the senior centreman.
A lucky bounce ignited their comeback and another finished it off.

"When you have two tired teams any lucky bounce really helps you," said Lak Attack.

"It's frustrating," said Bam Bam. "They just wanted it more than we did."

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February 02, 2014

Faces of pain

It was the worst of a whack. It was the best of a bad shot.

Two veteran roadsters were felled by injuries early in Sunday's game, changing team dynamics and the mood of the remaining players.

Colonel was chopped down by Beckenbauer's stick as the two foes battled for a face off. After writhing on the cold concrete court for a number of minutes, the senior centreman hobbled to the sidelines favouring his left knee. He didn't return.

Shortly after being traded to balance the sides, Living Legend went down, struck just above his right eye by a rising slap shot off the stick of his former teammate, Holt. His eyebrow swollen into a reddened mound, the founding father also left the game.

The departure of two experienced players in the same game because of injuries sent a chill through their teammates and opponents.

"To see two people go down in the same game, it's concerning," said Lak Attack. "It can be a very scary moment."

"In a sport like this you never know what's going to happen," said Bam Bam. "It's a dangerous sport."

"It reminds you how painful this game can be," said Beckenbauer.

The loss of the Colonel necessitated changes to his side's gameplan, as they were no longer able to take advantage of his big shot from the point to clear lanes.

But when Living Legend left the court, the roadsters had to regroup into a half-court game.

The impact of those injuries served as a sobering reminder to the game's fragility, and players' proximity to pain and suffering in the small court.

"As long as you're aware, that's half the battle," said Lak Attack. "You have to forget about it and continue to play."

"YOu always have to be aware," said Bam Bam. "You never know what's going to happen."

But at least one opportunity saw the sudden demise of players as an advantage he could exploit.

"I know my advantage is fitness," said Beckenbauer. "If there's fewer people running around, it's advantage Beckenbauer."

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January 26, 2014

Bam bangs winner

Bam Bam and his mates overcame a late swoon and the departure of their two spare players to pull out a 16-14 squeaker in Sunday's game.

With Yak and Living Legend no longer available to relieve tired legs, Bam Bam charged hard to the net with new urgency to reclaim his side's advantage that they'd just squandered for the first time in the game.

"Whichever team commits hard, you just can't let up," said Yak of his side's fire to finish hard.

A dry court, bright sunshine and a strong contingent of players contributed to one of the most intense games of the season.

"Everybody is running," said Yak, as his side charged to an early 6-1 lead and continued to hold the advantage until late. "There's no reason to let up."

"Everybody's not falling all over the place," said Weeble. "You're not worried about falling on your ass and being completely out of the play."

The winners may have been helped by the unexpected offensive contribution of Twizzler, who was freed from the constraints of the goal crease when Joker returned after missing the last three weeks with illness. Bringing a big physical presence along the boards and assured hands around the net, Twizzler seemed to confound opposing defenders time and again.

"He's a big body," said Weeble. "You've got to stick to him, not give him too many chances."

"He's a bit of a wild card," said Yak. "You give him the ball and you don't know what to expect."

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January 20, 2014

Stanley Stick dates set

This year's Stanley Stick will be contested April 20 and 27.

The annual battle for Sunday Morning Road Hockey supremacy is the only time in the eight month season that teams are carried over from one week to the next. That's led to some classic contests over the years, including the stunning series of 2008 when the underdogs battled their way back from a 19-13 deficit in the finale with a 21-19 win that sent the series to a decisive mini game that they also won, 10-3. The incredible 18-4 run still stands as the greatest comeback in Stanley Stick history.

Last year's Stanley Stick champions were led by stalwart veterans Lak Attack and Colonel, who got his first taste of victory champaign in years.

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January 12, 2014

Colonel rewards goalie heroics

Colonel gave his team their first lead at the most important point of Sunday's game. He scored ton a breakaway that backed a hapless Twizzler right into his net to lift his side to a sudden-death 15-14 win.

"I was just hoping he'd fall over outside the net," said the wily veteran of the wiry goaltender who seemed to lose sense of where he was in his crease as he stared down the on-rushing forward. "Had he pokechecked me would have been over."

But he didn't and Colonel was able to lift a shot high into the yawning cage.

The victory was a just reward for the clutch performance by his team's goaltender, Lak Attack, who unexpectedly got the call to strap on the pads after Joker was a surprise no-show. The stalwart back-up made at least three electrifying saves, two with his glove hand and another with his outstretched pad as the Living Legend went to his backhand on a breakaway, to give his side their last gasp chance at pulling out the win.

It was, in some ways, an unlikely triumph, as Colonel and his mates played from behind for much of the game, which was played in a steady, cold rain.

Down by as many as four on two occasions, time and again they managed to chip their way back to even terms only to slip behind. But, said the Colonel, they never gave up.

"As long as the game doesn't feel out of reach, it makes it more intense," he said.

The failure by Bam Bam and his mates to put their opponents away for good was frustrating for the speedy winger who endured trans-Atlantic jet lag to make it to the opening face-off.

"We know the game is all about momentum," said Bam Bam. "With games like these sometimes the bounces go your way and sometimes they don't."

And sometimes they end up in the goalie's glove.

"With a goalie like Lak, you know he's going to come up with the big save," said Bam Bam. "We had a few game winners that could have gone in but he came up with the big glove hand."

Those saves were as much a testimony of his will to win as his lightning reflexes, said Lak Attack.

"I said to myself I have to be better," said Lak Attack. "I had to be quick on the ball. It kinda stopped the bleeding."

More importantly, the saves put his team into a position to win.

"It was gratifying to come together as a team and pull out the win," said Colonel.

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January 05, 2014

Goalie's offensive acumen no joke

Joker scored 10 times in his debut as an offensive player to lead his team to a 16-13 win in Sunday's Shrimp Ring Bowl.

The rookie rearguard, relieved of the big leg pads when Chico made himself available for a rare start between the pipes, revealed his offensive prowess by staying on his feet and shooting the ball at every opportunity. That's because defenders and even his own teammates couldn't get traction on the slippery concrete, frosted by an overnight chill that persisted through the morning.

"If Joker hadn't been shooting the ball, it would have been a different game," said Yak, whose own run and gun game was stymied by the ice. "It was a little slippery for sure."

So much so, scoring opportunities were created when defenders found themselves struggling to change direction on turnovers or floundering on their backsides after loosing their footing on an icy patch.

"You had to be able to anticipate when the other team was going to fall on their asses," said Yak.

The conditions were equally challenging for both teams. Beckenbauer skidded onto his keester a number of times.

"It was surprisingly exhausting to run on the ice," said the Teutonic terror. "You have to think about saving yourself."

He and his mates used smart positioning to create turnovers and set up Joker.

"I think we did a good job of spreading out across the court so we never got anybody trapped," said Yak. "We didn't have to turn on a dime, and we shot the ball."

Colonel, meanwhile, employed a strategy of avoiding icy upendings altogether by planting himself in front of the opposite goalie, waiting for the scoring chances to come his way. It might have worked, but for his stone hands and inability to help his mates defend odd-man rushes.

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December 22, 2013

Lak on attack motivates mates

Lak Attack was so certain he'd putting in another start between the pipes, he drove to Sunday's game wearing his leg pads and mask.

But a surprise appearance by Twizzler gave the versatile veteran a rare chance to lead his team by example and to a 15-9 win.

Lak Attack set the tone for his mates right from the opening face-off as he worked hard in the defensive zone and created opportunities at the opposite end. Living Legend capitalized on the game's first shot, Bing drove hard to the net time and again, and Beckenbauer quickly dispatched the rust of his extended layoff to forge a 5-1 lead by the game's first break.

And while they faltered a couple of times to allow their opponents to climb back to with two goals, they forechecked and battled their way back to dominant leads.

"They were better at jumping on the ball right off the bat," said Yak of their determined opponents. "They were moving for each other and we took a little while to get going."

"When someone is running around, it kinda inspires the team and gets everyone running around," said Beckenbauer of Lak Attack's inspirational effort. "He gave us a bit more mobility that helped us out today."

That mobility advantage was especially important on a court slicked by snow and saturated slush. The challenging conditions seemed to hobble Yak, who relies on quick turns and swooping cuts to bedazzle flat-footed defenders. Colonel seemed tentative after losing his footing early.

And when the underdogs did find their legs, they were stymied by Twizzler, making his first start in net since opening week.

"He was solid early on," said Beckenbauer of his goalie's solid effort after a long layoff. "I didn't even think about his absence as he was just able to step back in where he left off. He didn't miss a beat."

Meanwhile at the other end, Joker struggled in his first sober start.

"Everybody has a bad game, and today he just got bit," said Yak of the shotstopper's struggles. "I think he was learning from it."

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December 09, 2013

Angry Colonel awakens team

Nobody wants to wake Angry Colonel.

But Bam Bam did just that when his flailing stick clipped the irascible veteran in the head. The timbre and tempo of Sunday's game changed immediately.

Playing with new purpose and vigour, Angry Colonel and his mates buttoned down defensively and scored four straight goals to eke out a 15-14 sudden death win.

On a cold, crisp day that froze the evil orange plastic balls and sent passes skipping over sticks and shots pinging off posts, Sunday's game started as a reprise of last week's clash, with a minor alteration of Chico's season debut between the pipes.

Using their youth and speed advantage, Doo and his crew jumped to a 10-6 lead then ballooned it to a seven-goal margin with three more unanswered goals.

Chico was struggling. Making his return after an extended paternity leave, the veteran shotstopper was doing anything but as he battled the cold and a frozen trapper.

But a change of equipment seemed to bring him new resolve and a better handle on the icy spheres coming his way. He robbed Doo, Bam and Scrappy of surefire goals to give his side hope.

That hope arrived when Bam Bam's stick connected with Colonel's head, awakening his wrath.

Angered, Colonel executed payback with an elbow to Scrappy that created a turnover and led to a goal to close his side to within 14-11.

His mates took Colonel's cue. A headman pass by Chico to a streaking Weeble sent the diminutive junkman into a clear breakaway on Craigslist keeper Joker. He converted, tying the game at 14.

"I was just thinking shoot," said Weeble.

The goal set up Colonel's winner, his ultimate rebuttal to the blow that raised his ire. And his game.

-with files from Chico

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