January 27, 2015
Half-court game a full-on challenge
A goalie shortage for the second time in the past three weeks left the roadsters gasping for breath Sunday.
And recalculating their formulas for victory.
Managing the modified half-court game successfully is all about controlling the court, said Holt. That means using the corners to lure defenders out of position and create open lanes to the net.
Defensively the emphasis needs to be on clogging the centre of the court to ensure those lanes stay blocked.
But most importantly, said the sharp shooting centreman, it's about stamina.
"You've got to make sure you're not chasing guys into the corners," said Holt. "You can't get tired, you can't get pissed off and fall for their traps."
That takes discipline, said Yak.
"It's good positioning and knowing when to run and when not to run," said the veteran speedster.
The team that best controls the ball on the transition plays will find success, said Yak.
"You have to put a forecheck on the backboards."
For the goalie in the half-court game, the pressure is relentless.
"You've got to amp up your energy," said Joker. "When you're the goalie you're going to be way more busy than you normally are."
That can take a toll mentally, as a defensive ally one moment is an oncoming sniper the next.
"It's so back and forth," said Joker. "Shots are coming at you from every angle. Everybody has got to do their part."
January 18, 2015
Drought-busting goal sparks win
An extended goal drought took its toll on both sides in Sunday's game. But it was Lak Attack and his mates who broke through to romp to a 15-9 win.
As both teams struggled to put the evil orange plastic ball past Twizzler and Joker, it quickly became apparent the side best able to weather the dry spell would seize the game's momentum.
"We just continued to be more persistent around the net," said Lak Attack. "It paid off for us."
And while Scooby and his mates quickly answered, their legs and fortitude had abandoned them.
"When you feel you're outworking the other team, that's tough mentally," said the veteran speedster. "It gets to you."
A 4-1 run down the stretch sealed their fate, said Scooby. "We had a lot of chances, but we just couldn't put them in the net."
That's because Twizzler played one of his strongest games, controlling rebounds, smothering loose balls at every opportunity.
"He let us stay patient and we knew we'd get some goals," said Lak Attack.
The frustration amongst opposing shooters was palpable.
"It's hard to come back when they're three away and we're down by four," said Scooby."
Still, Lak Attack and his mates weren't going to take anything for granted.
"I thought we kept control of the pace," said the seasoned veteran. "We just stayed patient and we knew eventually we'd get the goals. It was just a matter of time."
January 11, 2015
Mirror goals seal OT win
Colonel and Lak Attack scored in overtime on mirror images of the same play to give their side the two goal advantage they needed to win Sunday's game, 17-15.
The wily veterans shielded the evil orange plastic ball with their backs to the net, then whirled and blasted their shots past a surprised Eight Ball, Colonel on a backhand, Lak Attack from his forehand.
The goals were the coup de grace of a three-goal run from the brink of defeat after Yak scored on a controversial penalty shot on Twizzler to give his side the advantage.
The seesaw overtime was really a truncated version of the entire game as both teams squandered then rebuilt leads numerous times.
"Both teams were in it," said Yak. "Both teams worked really hard but you know it's going to one way or the other."
And for a moment it seemed like the game would go in favour of his side. After Colonel threw his stick in a desperate attempt to break up an odd man rush by Nouvelle Guy and Living Legend, Yak was selected to take the penalty shot over the objections from the play's perpetrator.
The diminutive veteran with the knack for executing spinnerama plays kept it simple and straightforward, rifling a shot past the outstretched pad of Twizzler.
"Twizzler usually stonewalls people on those," said Colonel. "Yak made a great shot."
The goal put Yak's side another marker from victory.
But it never came, as the game's length and tempo tinally wore defenders down, mentally and physically.
"It takes the edge off when you're only one away from winning," said Yak. "You're in the lead and you don't feel you're in danger."
But, said Colonel, his side wasn't about to give up.
"It's a game of mental fortitude more than anything," said the senior centreman.
Beckenbauer said his side just ran out of gas.
"I think the wheels fell off," said Beckenbauer. "They just kept pounding away and we didn't have enough gas in the tank."
January 04, 2015
Intrepid seven play on
The shrimp ring may have cowered in the refrigerator, afraid to confront the hellacious rain and sleet storm lashing the road hockey courts Sunday, but that didn't stop seven robust roadsters from welcoming the new year.
With three players, Yak, Lak Attack and Eight Ball, designated as rotating rovers, switching sides after each scoring play, the team anchored by Joker from his goal crease prevailed in the downpour, 15-13.
But they almost let the win slip down the drain.
Lak Attack and Beckenbauer scored early and often to lead their side to a quick 10-5 lead. But then Eight Ball switched sides and got hot. Time and again he found the top corner beyond Joker's reach.
Curiously, when he was switched back to his original team, he suddenly proved defensively inept.
The Jekyll and Hyde act allowed his part-time mates Holt and Yak to get back into the game. A deflection by the latter off a slap pass by the former tied the score at 11.
But the superior fitness of Lak Attack and Beckenbauer proved too much to overcome. Ironically, it was a mid-air chop by newly-reacquired floater Eight Ball that sealed their victory.
Shrimp Ring Bowl on ice
The Shrimp Ring Bowl is being put on ice for this week.
Sunday Morning Road Hockey founding father Living Legend said in a prepared statement that the poor weather as well as previously-announced scratches meant the crustacean celebration would be more like a trial of survival.
"There's no doubt this rain/snow/sleet would severely water down the cocktail sauce," said the veteran journeyman.
And while the shrimp ring has been put back into the refrigerator, Sunday's game has not been officially called off, said the Legend. But he's unlikely to be there as he tries to beat a cold that has dogged him all year.
"For those hardy players who still want a work out, and don't mind getting their feet soaked, the courts are open," said the Legend. "But it sure doesn't look like it would be a lot of fun playing in this slop."
The Shrimp Ring celebration of the new year will officially be played next week.
December 21, 2014
Gapping the generations
Sunday Morning's generation battle is getting a little old. Which suits the game's young speedsters just fine.
For the second consecutive week the stick pull pitted a team of junior players against a side comprised of grizzled veterans.
Again, speed and stamina won out, 15-8. Despite a sizeable territorial advantage by the veterans.
While the senior squad enjoyed a territorial advantage, they didn't have the legs to keep pace with the speedsters' counter attack and quick transition from defence to offence. More often than not, the veterans got left behind on odd-man rushes that resulted in scoring chances.
"They had the speed, so they can transition quick," said Lak Attack. "At times we may have tried to get too cute with an extra pass."
And when that pass was intercepted by a fleet-footed defender, the resulting two-on-one and three-on-one breakaways proved too much for Joker and his wheezing defensive corps.
"Joker was so good on the direct shots, you really had to be patient to wait for the late man coming in," said Doo.
An injury scare midway through the game seemed to motivate the oldsters. Both Yak and Lak went to the sidelines after they tumbled to the concrete. After gathering their faculties they both returned for their next shift.
But not until Doo was traded and quickly scored a goal for his new mates.
And while the young speedster was sent back to his kin with the return of the fallen veterans, the oldsters began to play with a spark of intensity that brought them to within three goals.
"We were playing better," said Lak. "We changed our game in the second half, we gave up fewer opportunities on the odd-man rushes."
But that was as close as they'd get, as Twizzler shut down every scoring opportunity that came his way.
"Twizzler had to play better than he should have," said Doo. "(He) had to come up with some big saves."
December 14, 2014
Speedy youngster make short work out of vets
Fleet-footed youngsters made quick work of their aging opponents.
Bam Bam, Scooby and Doo used their speed and limitless stamina while big Bing crashed the crease to handily win Sunday's time-shortened game 10-5.
Despite spotting the veterans an early 2-1 lead, the fresh-faced youngsters maintained their composure and their game plan. That consisted of headmanning the ball at every opportunity. The resulting odd-man rushes quickly took their toll.
"They did a good job getting the transition going," said Yak, who seemed a step behind most of the game, yet was likely his side's swiftest forward.
It was a strategy that played to the young stars' strength.
"I think we had a couple of guys who had speed out on the wing, and then the other two guys could go to the net and battle for the ball," said Bam Bam.
Having to chase down those speedy wingers wore down the doddering defenders.
"I think if you weighed us all, we've got an extra 150 pounds," said Yak. "After a while it takes a lot out of you."
While Eight Ball reprised some of the spectacular saves he made in his victorious debut last week, even his acrobatics weren't enough to stanch the offensive tide drowning his side.
"You've just got to test him out, take a lot of shots from odd angles and go for the rebounds," said Bam Bam. "We got a few dirty ones by him."
December 07, 2014
Eight Ball racks up first win
Eight Ball started Sunday's game behind his namesake
By the end, he'd racked up a 15-8 win for his team.
The rookie rearguard stumbled out of the gate of his first start of the season, spotting his opponents a 5-3 advantage at the end of the first period.
He got the tap on the leg pads when Lak Attack was a late scratch and Twizzler missed his second consecutive start. The unexpected call posed a challenge.
"The first period was a little hard," said Eight Ball. "I had to see certain players tendencies, what they did with the ball."
But his teammates saw enough to stir their confidence coming out of the break.
"We were down, but we were down as a result of our own mistakes," said Yak. "I think it was pretty clear he's a solid goalie. We knew we had everything it would take to come back."
Assured that Eight Ball could take care of himself, Yak and his mates pressed heavily on the forecheck that created scoring chances.
"The forecheck from those guys was really good," said Doo. "The effort was there, but we got frustrated."
Rattled and reeling they gave up eight of the next nine goals. As their lead devolved into an insurmountable deficit, the frustration of Doo's mates boiled over. Colonel called out Joker for a poor effort on some shots. Joker snapped a shot about weak defensive support.
Eight Ball knew the game was his for the taking.
"The more you shut it down, the more they try to shoot from everywhere," said Eight Ball. "That kinda starts to play to your advantage as a goalie."
One that proved just the edged his side needed to win the game going away.
"You have to put your trust in your goalie," said Yak. "You know he's solid back there and you just go hard to the net and try your best to put shots on the net and be gritty."
November 30, 2014
Fearless roadsters frozen out
Sometimes it's just too cold. Even for the roadsters.
Confronted with the prospect of slapping around a frozen evil orange plastic ball on concrete that had been chilled and slicked to tundra by a nasty northern wind, many of the game's heartiest players decided early, and frequently, to stay inside. Where it's warm.
A Friday night rainstorm was followed by a cold snap that froze the moisture on the concrete into jagged crags of ice and snow.
Colonel was the first to beg off, followed by founding father Living Legend.
When those seasoned veterans decide it's too cold and too slippery, it's serious business. Both players have weathered some of the fiercest weather over the years, including blizzards and monsoons, to ensure the game goes on.
Others quickly saw the folly of playing in the frigid conditions.Yak, Scooby, Lak Attack and Joker joined the ranks huddled for warmth in their homes.
Somewhere in Hawaii, Beckenbauer is smiling.
November 23, 2014
Doo gets it done
Doo didn't give up on the ball.
His team didn't give up on Sunday's game.
The diminutive speedster corralled the evil orange plastic ball at the edge of the crease to Joker's stick side and squibbed a backhand between the keeper's pad and goalpost for a sudden death 15-14 win.
It seemed an unlikely result for a side that had trailed by as many as seven goals.
But Doo and his mates kept working, creating the breaks that started to pay off on the scoreboard.
"We stuck with it," said Doo. "We turned it into a playoff game. We grinded it out. We were hungry."
No one was more famished than the speedy centreman who's played a key role in previous monster comebacks. A spectacular goal Doo scored characterized his determination to steal the win. Swooping down the left side of the court he cradled a pinpoint saucer pass from the Living Legend and somehow managed to go forehand to backhand as he crashed over a sprawling Joker and tuck it into the corner of the net.
The jaw-dropping goal filled Doo's mates with confidence and belief in themselves.
"I knew we had it in us to come back," said Doo.
"They battled hard," said Colonel of his side's fearsome foes. "They battled to the end and everybody chipped in."
Especially Lak Attack, who strapped on the goalie pads when Twizzler was an unexpected scratch.
The versatile veteran had a shaky start but became impenetrable as his teammates started finding success at the opposite end of the court.
"When Lak started making the saves he did, we really felt the belief we could do it," said Doo.
Lak's smothering saves frustrated his opponents.
"It was like we hit him every time," said Colonel. "That means he was making great moves, making great saves."
November 16, 2014
Joker gets the last laugh
Joker got the last laugh.
The sophomore shotstopper bounced back from a lacklustre effort last week to backstop his team to a 15-9 win in Sunday's game.
Time and again Joker came up big when his team needed him to, repelling odd man rushes and smothering the ball at every opportunity.
With supreme confidence in their back end, Joker's teammates were able to exert a strong forechecking game that created scoring opportunities aplenty. With defenders jumping up into the offensive zone with impunity, Twizzler was defenceless.
"They put a lot of good forechecking pressure on us," said Yak, as his team found themselves at a 5-1 disadvantage at the game's first break. "We coughed the ball up and that made our passes weaker. They took advantage of it."
"You get offensive chances when your goalie makes a really big save," said Doo.
Snipers like Doo, Holt and Lak Attack were quick to make their opponents pay for their mistakes.
"You just have to capitalize on your chances," said Doo.
The relentless counterattack wore down Beckenbauer and beleaguered mates.
"It was just a mental game to try to get it under control," he said.
And whenever they did show signs of wresting momentum, Joker came up with a big save to snuff it out.
"I thought we had some good pressure, but he was always there to stop us," said Beckenbauer.
"If he hadn't been making some showstopper saves, it would have been a different game," said Yak.
"He was motivated, and I think he delivered," said Doo.
November 09, 2014
Veterans spark underdogs' win
The wily old guys came to play Sunday.
Living Legend scored five times and Lak Attack played an excellent two-way game to lead their undermanned squad to a dominating 15-7 win.
With two ageing veterans in their lineup and one less spare player to spell off tired teammates. the underdogs knew they'd have to strike quick to gain the advantage.
But once ahead, they never relented.
"I think we had a bit of chemistry," said Eight Ball.
Taking the early lead also boosted their confidence, said Beckenbauer.
"Getting out in front was a huge advantage for us psychologically and physically," said the Teutonic centreman. "It gives you a lot of confidence and you're not chasing the game so much."
They also managed their shifts wisely, changing on the fly and ensuring a tired player didn't stay on long enough to get caught up court.
"We were rotating pretty fast," said Eight Ball.
"They just kept rolling," said Bam Bam.
Those fresh legs allowed the underdogs to spread their scoring. Every player scored multiple times.
"It was a good team effort," said Eight Ball.
And when the play headed the opposite way, everyone showed a strong commitment to hustling back to defend.
"We had pretty good defensive awareness," said Beckenbauer.
That frustrated their opponents.
Late in the game, as their deficit grew, Bam Bam and his mates left a player parked deep behind their opponent's defenders hoping to convert quick transitions to comeback goals. It didn't work. Instead the underdogs sprung a series of odd-man rushes that sealed their victory.
"We got to a point where we just wanted to shake it up a bit," said Bam Bam.
"We just settled down and stuck to our gameplan," said Eight Ball.
November 02, 2014
Slippery court saps confidence
A slippery court and lack of team speed proved too much for Holt and his mates to overcome, as they dropped a 15-8 loss in Sunday's game.
In fact, the score would have been a lot worse were it not for the goaltending heroics of Twizzler, who, time and again was called upon to make multiple saves in quick succession as his defenders struggled to find purchase on the rain-slicked court.
Holt and the normally agile Yak both went down hard. The latter even cut his elbow on one of his tumbles.
That seemed to hurt their confidence at both ends of the court, said Holt.
"You second guess yourself," said the sneaky sniper. "If you're scared, you just have no advantage."
Especially when your opponents are led by the fleet feet of Lak Attack and Beckenbauer, two of the most tireless players in the league.
"They're fast," said Holt. "They're just great athletes."
That team speed allowed the up-tempo teammates to command the middle of the court.
"You don't want to be running around too much," said Lak Attack. "You want to play very positional, make good outlet passes and be in the open for the other guys."
More often than not, those outlet passes generated odd-man rushes in the offensive zone. Enough of those, and the result is inevitable, said Lak Attack.
"You wait for your chances, but you've also got to create opportunities," said the veteran speedster. "When you can pressure them and take the ball away, you turn it into an odd-man rush."
The tsunami of scoring chances mounted as the defenders tired in the first game of these season with no substitute players to spell tired legs.
"They always seemed to have one more guy in the offensive and defensive zones," said Holt. "We just got tired."
October 26, 2014
Bam Bam's early exit deflates mates
Bam Bam is a battler.
But when a deflection of the evil orange plastic ball into his eye forced his early departure from Sunday's game, the fighting spirit also seemed to leave his team en route to a 15-12 defeat.
Playing from behind from the game's earliest moments, Bam Bam and his mates struggled to find their chemistry. And when passing plays did click, shots were rebuffed by Joker who was at the top of his game between the pipes.
Still, Bam Bam's plucky defence and commitment to go into battle along the boards kept his side within a lucky break or two of swinging the game their way.
Until one of those board battles deep in his team's own zone sent the ball up into Bam Bam's face and the feisty forward dropped to the concrete holding his hands up to his left eye.
While there was no damage immediately apparent, Bam Bam left the game.
HIs side's opportunistic opponents seized their advantage.
"It was definitely an opportunity for us to capitalize," said Beckenbauer. "When they're down a man it gives you a chance to run them down into the ground."
It wasn't quite that easy, said Yak. But his side did start breaking down defensively more often without their teammate's back end leadership.
"We started to get a little loose on defence that they really capitalized on it," said Yak. "I think we lost our mental toughness."
Only Twizzler's goaltending heroics kept the score within reach.
And when opportunities finally did start coming their way, their opponents were forced to play with more urgency.
"I don't know if it was nerves or just grim determination to make sure we ended it," said Beckenbauer.
Yak said the final score was an accurate reflection of the game's ebbs and flows. His side just hadn't done enough to wrest victory.
"They worked a little harder," he said. "They kept on the ball a little harder, and they jumped on their checks a little faster."
October 19, 2014
Goalie change sparks comeback
It may not have been the turning point that changed the outcome of Sunday's game.
But the swap of goalies to replace starter Lak Attack with Joker certainly veered the game to a close, competitive battle that came just a little short with a 15-11 loss.
Prior to the change, Sunday's game had been anything but close.
As Holt and Beckenbauer preened for the TV camera on the sideline, their side couldn't get any traction on the court. They fell behind 6-1 and seemed destined for a rout.
They couldn't run. They couldn't score. They were feeble on defence.
Then Joker hurt his hand and sought refuge between the pipes. He switched sides and put on the pads for his new mates, ousting the veteran backup Lak Attack from the crease.
The move paid off instantly.
"Whenever you swap goalies it feels like a new game," said Yak. "I think we were already mentally beaten at that point."
Joker made some big saves. Lak Attack brought new life to the legs of his teammates.
"Lak is an excellent player out, so any team that has him on their side is going to benefit from that," said Colonel.
"He's definitely a very efficient and skilled player when he's out," said Bam Bam of Lak's attack. "You add a guy like that to the mix and you're going to change the dynamic."
"More than anything, Lak brings hope," said Yak.
Lak's example seemed to spark Holt the most.
Freed from his TV obligations, the gifted goal scorer found his touch. He scored four of his side's next six goals. The comeback was on.
"You try hard and you start to build momentum," said Yak.
That momentum pushed their opponents back on their heels.
"Once we got the big lead, maybe we got a bit complacent," said Bam Bam.
"When you're up by a lot and a team starts to chip away, you start to feel their momentum and enthusiasm growing," said Colonel. "They start to believe in themselves."
So much so, they were able to take their first lead, 11-10, early in the third period.
But it turned out to be their only lead.
A couple of seeing-eye shots by young sniper Doo deflated the comeback. They also restored the faith of his teammates.
"It takes a great deal of mental fortitude to focus, reestablish yourself and come back," said Colonel. "We got the bounces and we were able to take over."
"When a guy has a hot stick like that, you just let him do his thing," said Bam Bam.
October 13, 2014
Compressed training camp shows speed, competitiveness
It usually takes the roadsters a game or two to run out the off-season kinks.
Sunday, they did it in one morning.
After a lacklustre, dispiriting training camp opener the teams regrouped to put on a run-and-gun show of precise passing, fancy footwork, rapier goals and solid goaltending that would have pride of place late in the schedule.
When the concrete dust settled, Lak Attack and his mates hung on for a 10-8 nailbiter.
"The second game was a really good pace," said the versatile veteran who was solid in his first goaltending start. "You saw a lot of nice plays. There's a lot more parity."
Doo said more players are taking off-season conditioning seriously, ensuring they're able to hit the court running come training camp.
"If you stayed in shape over the summer, then you're pretty good," said the young sniper. "I thought everybody's legs were going really well."
That bodes well for the coming season, which officially opens next week.
"You can see what to expect," said Lak Attack. "The guys are in shape. You've got speed, a lot of skill."
"The skill level is high out there," said Doo. "I think everybody got adjusted really quickly."
"A lot of guys are ready to play," said Yak.
Lot begin the operative word.
Sunday's pre-season game was one of the best attended in years. Motivation was high.
More importantly, the league's annual struggle to find committed, consistent goaltending seems to have eased.
Joker's back and ready to fight off any signs of a sophomore jinx while defending the Stanley Stick championship he won in his rookie season.
Lak Attack is ready to step in when needed.
And a new recruit, Eight Ball, showed up with leg pads, body armour and a positive attitude about playing net.
Add them to veteran stalwarts Twizzler and Chico, both of whom missed training camp but indicated they'll be ready to go for the regular season, and, for the first time there seems to be a wealth of riches between the pipes.
That's allowing the rest of the players the rare luxury to focus on their game, rather on whether there will actually be a game.
"You have to prepare yourself," said Lak Attack. "You're going to see a good pace through the season."
Which made a quick start in training camp that much more important.
"It's a good indication that there's not going to be a lot of time out there," said Yak.
"I think a lot of guys needed to measure themselves against the other guys," said Doo. "They needed to learn tendencies again. Those are the things you can't work on over the summer."
"You've got to be ready every second," said Lak Attack.
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.
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."
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
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."
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."
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.
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.