November 24, 2013
Missed opportunities prove costly
Two missed breakaways by Yak may have been the difference in Sunday's game.
With his side in the lead after having fought their way back from an early deficit, the shifty winger found himself in alone on Lak Attack on two consecutive plays but he couldn't convert either into goals that might have put the game out of reach.
"In the moment you think 'ah, you'll get another chance,'" said Yak of his unrealized opportunities. "You really have to capitalize on every chance in a close game like this."
Which is just what Colonel and his mates did.
After floundering through the game's middle section, the feisty forward seemed re-energized after the two squandered scoring opportunities. He was determined not to let the game get away, as it very nearly did when his team blew their early lead and found themselves down 11-9 and the clock running out.
"It feels like momentum is against you," said Colonel. "We had to get one and then we found a bit of life to try harder."
Weeble took advantage of Doo's overly aggressive attempt to clear a loose ball in the corner to tie the game, then Colonel ripped a rapier into the high corner to win it.
The sudden turn of fortune was a tough blow to the upstart keeper.
"We'd fought hard all game, but it just came down to a couple of bad bounces late in the game," said Doo.
"It's a little heartbreaking," said Yak. "We were two breakaways from a win."
November 17, 2013
Clock snubs comeback
Doo and his mates were able to take advantage of some turn overs late in Sunday's game to spark a 9-8 comeback win.
But for some roadsters the game still wasn't over.
A controversial call by representatives from both teams when the score was tied at eight to recognize the next goal as the game winner went unheeded by some players. They cried foul when Doo and Bam Bam combined to complete the comeback.
"You've got to run really hard and try to take advantage of your opportunities," said Doo. "Work hard as a team and you'll get the win."
Though it took a while for his team to find their game.
Their opponents were quick to pounce. Colonel took charge with his sharp, curving shot from the point. Yak bedazzled flat-footed defenders with his deft deking. And Weeble peeled in at the side of the crease to pick up the garbage rebounds. They built a quick 3-1 advantage.
But their up-tempo game took a toll and they were soon huffing, puffing and strolling their way back into plays. Often too late.
"We started giving the ball away and they were able to come back," said Yak.
Doo and his mates found their stride as they found their voice.
"As the game went on we started to communicate," said Doo, whose side held a slim 5-4 advantage at the break. "We were able to get some really good passing plays. That's what did it for us."
Three quick goals put the underdogs back in front, but again, they stopped running.
"You don't have the chance to let up because when you do, you let the odd man opportunities start to happen," said Yak.
Doo and his mates fought back again. This time for good.
"You've got to be patient," said Doo.
November 10, 2013
A month into the season the roadsters have played but one full game.
The loss of regular goalies Twizzler and Chico to new work schedules and fatherhood redux respectively has been compounded by lackadaisical commitment and comebacks that were more hype than career reignitions.
It's disappointing and frustrating.
I's not unexpected.
The early going has been a struggle for the past few seasons as some roadsters fulfill school, work and travel commitments.
The core group of roadsters who continue to carry the game's torch have adjusted by devising a modified half-court game that provides competitive play and a good workout.
But it's not very satisfying.
Clearing the evil orange plastic ball to the far end wall isn't the same as headmanning it to an opportunist teammate to create an odd-man rush on the transition. Beating the goalie isn't as gratifying when you then have to immediately turn around and provide defensive support to him. Running to the edge of exhaustion because of a lack of substitute players to provide relief makes for games littered with mental errors and slothful defence.
If there's a silver lining it's that last year the first full-court game didn't happen until six weeks into the season. This year, the roadsters are actually ahead of that pace.
It may not be the glory days of yore, but as long as there IS a game, there's hope that the games will get better.
The roadsters just need to look at the empty court next door as testament to their resilience; after more than five years the latest incarnation of roguesters are gone, unable to sustain their game through waning commitment.
The Sunday Morning core is as strong as it's ever been, and as long as they have the resolve to weather yet another early season of attendance doldrums, the fire of competitive full-court games will return.
November 03, 2013
So far this season, the middle of the court has been unfamiliar ground to the roadsters. It's just not that important in the half-court game.
But in the first full court game of the new campaign, Yak and his mates used their superior transition game through mid-court to dominate their overmatched opponents, 15-2. It was one of the most lopsided scores in years.
"We capitalized on some transitions," said Yak. "It changed the nature of the game."
Without the necessity of having to regroup through the back court at every change of possession, as in the half-court game, Yak used his speed and stickhandling agility to draw defenders, while Colonel was able to tee up some sizzling slappers that cleared lanes and created opportunities against a beleaguered Beckenbauer, making his first start in net of the season.
"Getting that big shot from the point is key," said Yak.
Indeed, at least a third of his side's goals came off big shot plays. It would have been more had Beckenbauer not robbed Living Legend on at least three occasions when he was poised to chip in fortuitous rebounds and caroms.
"When you've got that big shot coming from the back, that's a big part of the game," said Chico, who took a break from his paternity leave to make a rare start as a runner.
Especially early in the season, as the roadsters are still finding their legs and creating chemistry with their linemates. Having that big blast to clear the track and generate rebounds can be a distinct advantage, said Bam Bam.
"You've got to be quick and fast on your feet," said the feisty forward, who smashed his stick in half after one particularly frustrating play cost his side a goal. "Sometimes you're caught in the wrong position, you're stopping and starting a lot more."
While the imbalance of talent wasn't as great as the score might indicate, Yak said his side's early advantage seemed to deflate their opponents.
"Once we got up by a few it changed the nature of the game," said the speedy forward. "You're not under pressure so you can start committing harder."
October 27, 2013
Patience pays off
Patience is a virtue.
In half-court road hockey it's also a key to victory.
Sunday, Bam Bam and his mates bided their time through a slow start before wresting control of the game from their tiring opponents en route to a 12-7 victory.
Even as his side struggled through the game's first half, Bam Bam knew his side had the chemistry and game plan to comeback.
"We play a lot together," said the feisty forward of his linemates Colonel and Beckenbauer. "We know our strengths and weaknesses."
One of those strengths was the ability to move the ball around the perimeter, forcing fatiguing defenders to scramble after them as Colonel set up shop in the slot ready to tip the centering pass home.
"They did a really good job of keeping Colonel at the net so he didn't have to run too much," said Holt.
But even as their legs faltered, fatigue also exacted a toll on the defenders' mental game.
"You start getting complacent," said Yak. "You start waiting for the ball to come to you rather than going after it. The more tired you get the harder it is to stay sharp."
Sensing the opportunities, Bam Bam and his mates started to take chances.
"We these types of games you have to take more chances," said Bam Bam.
Many of those chances ended up in the back of the net.
"We started giving them up and we gave them up quickly," said Holt.
October 20, 2013
The tendons above his knee no longer inflamed, Beckenbauer sparked his side to a 12-8 win in Sunday's regular season opener.
The lanky Teuton missed most of last season because of the injury. But he barely missed a step in his triumphant comeback.
"I've still got some of the jump I had when I left," said Beckenbauer.
That wasn't good news for Colonel, the lone goalie in Sunday's half-court game.
"He does everything well," said the emergency keeper. "He's excellent defensively, he's got a long reach, he shoots for the corners. You can only try to contain a guy like that."
And for the first two-thirds of Sunday's game, that strategy seemed to be successful, as Yak and the Living Legend opened an early lead.
But the crafty Kraut sensed it was only a matter of time before he and his speedy linemate, Bam Bam, would be able to kick in the afterburners and some goals.
"We've all been here before, so we know how exhausting it gets," said Beckenbauer. "We knew that it's a long game and everything gets evened out in the end."
Which is exactly how Sunday's game unfolded as Beckenbauer and Bam Bam wrested control and the lead from their aging opponents.
"It took us a while to get the touch back," said Beckenbauer, who took full advantage of some of the Colonel's miscues.
"The long shots were pretty good screens," said Colonel. "You've just got to let it go and move on."
October 06, 2013
Even though he's a veteran with his name etched on the Stanley Stick trophy, Scrappy was like a rookie in Sunday's pre-season opener.
He couldn't find his place on the court.
He couldn't connect with his linemates.
He couldn't score.
But after missing all of last season to pursue other interests, it took him half a game to reestablish himself as one of Sunday Morning Road Hockey's most explosive scorers. The elusive sniper snapped two quick goals to spark his side to a 10-6 win.
"The touch was just not there for the first little while," said Scrappy. "I was really leaning on my teammates."
Those teammates bided their time, confident their young centreman would recapture his game.
"It's easier in a half-court game because you're working in a more confined space," said Yak. "You cycle the ball more, try to find guys. It forces you to develop chemistry."
Even as he wheeled and drove to the net without little to show for his effort, Scrappy was observing, making mental notes of his teammates' tendencies.
"If someone has a big shot, you try to set them up," said Scrappy. "If someone likes to go to the net, you just want to give it to them and let them rush."
Which proved to be the formula for victory.
"We had some bounces go our way," said Yak.
"It all came together in the second half of the game," said Scrappy.
September 27, 2013
Sunday Morning Road Hockey's two-week preseason/training camp opens Oct. 6.
August 15, 2013
Chico paused as he pulled off his shoulder pads and chest protector after Wednesday's midsummer scrimmage, wondering if he'd ever have to put them on again.
No, the veteran shotstopper isn't leaving the game.
But the arch nemesis of all goalkeepers is.
Unabomber took to the rain-slicked court for the last time for at least a couple of years. A rare presence in the lineup last season as he pursued educational opportunities, that chase will be taking him to another city beginning in September.
And just like his explosive slapshot, he went out with a bang. Six of them in fact, bullet drives that sizzled into the net even before the keeper could twitch a muscle. He added another with a deft deke as well as set up his teammates with some pinpoint passes.
The effort wasn't enough to keep his side from dropping a 15-9 decision in the annual evening pre-pre-season exhibition.
"I think sometimes you come out for one game and you run on adrenaline for a bit," said Unabomber of his unique achievement.
Far from the game's fastest player, Unabomber menaced opposing goaltenders with his rapier shot that often sent defenders scurrying out of the way to save their shins, calves and even the upper reaches of their bodies. Sometimes even the well-protected shotstoppers were felled, as occurred in the decisive game of the 2008 Stanley Stick championships series, when a Unabomber slapper crushed Billy Idol's mask and face, turning the series' momentum and eventual outcome.
"That was a hard thing to see actually," recalled Unabomber.
Goaltenders feared and respected Unabomber's shot said Chico. But they also valued his ability to be able to turn a game around on a dime with a timely goal.
"It's good to have him on your team, rather than have him shooting against you," said the netminder, who took the loss.
Unabomber refuses to call his departure a retirement. The game, he said, has given him too much to walk away from it forever.
"I think it's the ritual of it all," said Unabomber. "It's been a lot of years and it ramps up towards the Stick, and when you get to the Stick it all makes sense. That's what it's all about."
August 07, 2013
Midsummer scrimmage could be Unabomber's last
Unabomber's first game in a while may be his last game for a while. But, he insists, he's not retiring.
The fearsome slapshooter has signed on for a two-year gig in Calgary, the road hockey equivalent of the KHL.
Unabomber says he'll likely be back, "We're leaving it open to return."
So next Wednesday's annual mid-summer scrimmage is likely to be Unabomber's swan song, but not his farewell aria. He missed all of last season as his time was consumed by higher educational pursuits.
The midsummer scrimmage, scheduled for 7 p.m., Aug. 14, is a sort of pre-pre-season opportunity for the roadsters to loosen their legs and assess their conditioning in advance of the opening of training camp in early October.
April 28, 2013
Stanley Stick a fight for survival
Colonel may have won the battle, but there was no doubt he had been in a war.
After romping to a 20-11 win in last week's soggy opener, the feisty veteran and his mates were confident heading into Sunday's second game. But after opening the scoring with three straight goals they were pushed to their physical and mental limit, taking more than three hours to grind out a 20-17 win.
When Weeble tipped home a seeing eye blast off the Colonel's stick, they barely had the energy to celebrate.
They didn't so much win the Stanley Stick as survive it.
"They just kept coming," said the Colonel, as he savoured his first title in five years. "We had a lot of confidence we were going to prevail, but they just didn't give up."
"They gave us everything we could handle," said Doo. "They gave us everything they had until the end."
A goal by the Living Legend, his first in the series, seemed to spark the underdogs' belief they were worthy competitors.
"That galvanized us to believe that this was the only chance we've got," said Yak of his team's doggedness. "We've got all the tools we needed, it was just a matter of effort."
But no amount of heart and determination could stanch the wheeling offensive power of Doo, who piloted the transition game, and Colonel, who scored 10 times for the second week in a row, while Lak Attack was a stalwart on defence. Time and again they reestablished their three-goal margin. Time and again the underdogs battled back to within one.
"We really wanted to open a big lead, but it just didn't happen," said Colonel. "Once you start to believe in yourselves, then anything can happen."
"We had to grind out every single goal," said Doo. "We had to work our asses off."
Which was a small consolation to the losers, as they watched the subdued celebration of the champions.
"It was really even and hard fought," said Yak. "It really boils down to executing right from the get-go, and we just took a little longer to get going."
"Nobody had anything left in the tank at the end of the game," said Doo. "The relief was huge."
Lak Attack was voted the winner of the Conn Stick award as the championship's most valuable player.
"He was able to keep the pace of the game in their favor," said Yak. "You know you're going to have to stay honest the whole time he's out there."
The veteran centerman was also recognized with his selfless contribution through the regular season when he strapped on the goalie pads week after week to ensure games could be played as regular starters Chico and Twizzler worked through injuries.
April 21, 2013
Weather twist fails to turn tide
Even an unexpected twist in the weather couldn't steer Colonel and his mates from taking the first game of the Stanley Stick championship with a decisive 20-11 win on Sunday.
While the dry cool conditions at the opening face-off allowed Colonel, Doo, Lak Attack and Bam Bam to use their skill and speed to build a big lead, a sudden cold deluge that even included a few snowflakes sparked their opponents to a goal burst that got them close. But not close enough.
"Our main objective was to get lots of shots and take advantage of scoring opportunities and that's what we did," said Colonel, who contributed half his side's offence. "We ran hard, moved the ball around and got lots of shots on net quickly."
It was all too much for the overmatched underdogs, who were hobbled by lingering injuries to Yak and the Living Legend. They fell behind by as many as eight. Only some outstanding saves by Chico kept their hope alive.
"We just didn't play very good sound fundamental defence," said Chico. "We didn't lose this game on offence, we lost it on defence."
"We were trying to play a man-on-man defence but they were really good at hitting the guy right when he started moving," said Yak, who was slowed by a sore back. "Their passing was really quick and that made a huge difference."
Until the rain and wind started.
With the speed advantage of Lak Attack, Doo and Bam Bam neutralized by the rain-slicked concrete, the underdogs got renewed life with three straight goals that got them within four.
"With people sitting around, it took awhile to adjust to the weather," said Colonel. "I think people's energy level dropped."
Playing with renewed confidence, the underdogs, led by Scooby's sure footing in the treacherous conditions, pressed to get even closer.
"We needed a few successes to convince ourselves that we could do it," said Yak.
As the conditions deteriorated further, the game slowed to a cautious crawl. That gave the Colonel and his mates the respite they needed to regroup and refocus.
"You forget about the rain and try to play like you normally do," said Colonel. "Everything comes from that."
"When it came down to a grinding, mucking game, with that big lead it was very difficult to chip away at it," said Chico, whose side must now win next week's finale to force a decisive mini game.
It's a tall order, said Yak. But not impossible.
"We have everything we need to win the game," said Yak. "I think we're going to have to go back to basics."
"It's all about commitment," said Chico. "We've got to make that effort coming back."
Colonel and his mates are ready.
"The only game that's more important than the first game is the second one," said the veteran centerman.
April 14, 2013
Lak goes on attack
Goaltending is always key to the Stanley Stick.
But next week, it's who won't be strapping on the pads that could end up making the difference.
Lak Attack got one of his rare opportunities to air out his legs Sunday after playing goalie most of the season as regular starters Chico and Twizzler battled injuries. Even as one of the game's most senior players he showed why he's a decisive force when championship bragging rights are on the line as he led his side to a 16-10 win in the final tune-up before the two-game finale.
"Even when he doesn't try, Lak Attack is still working harder than every other person on the court," said Yak. "He just ups the tempo of the whole game and everybody else has to run harder."
"He's one of the best conditioned guys out there," said Bam Bam. "You've just got to take into consideration that he's going to go around you all the time. You've just got to keep an eye on him."
That's easier said than done, as time and again Sunday Lak Attack drove hard to the net, or looped back to the point to pilot a give-and-go offence. Liberated from his goaltending duties, he made the most of his freewheeling style.
"It's nice to get out there and work on my timing," said Lak Attack. "There's more opportunities created by speed."
It was that speed and skill advantage that catapulted his side to a lead they never relinquished and made scoring heroes of the recipients of his pinpoint passing and knack for attracting desperate defenders. Living Legend, back in the lineup after missing last week's game, scored five times, all of them on defensive breakdowns that left him uncovered.
"If you're playing against Lak, you've got to control the space," said Yak. "If you're chasing him around he'll beat you."
April 07, 2013
Giebelhaus better late than never
In Sunday Morning Road Hockey, a tie is like watching Weeble and Giebelhaus make out after a night drinking growlers of cheap beer.
Disappointing to say the least.
Sunday, the two rivals led their teams… absolutely nowhere, as the game ended in a 12-12 stalemate when Lak Attack announced his punctual departure at 12:30 p.m.
Giebelhaus' steamroller antics in tight and eclipsing of the goalie's line of sight time and again embarked his side on the comeback trail from an 8-5 deficit when he was injected into the lineup. A save by Chico on a penalty shot awarded Holt after Colonel threw his stick to break up a scoring opportunity further fired up the underdogs as they closed to within a goal and then traded scores.
Weeble's high blast over Chico's trapper seemed to snap the pattern by opening up a two-goal margin.
But with Giebelhaus clogging the crease, Bam Bam was able to rip a pair that caught Lak Attack by surprise, knotting the score at a dozen each.
The keepers then kept it that way through the game's dying moments.
"That's it," said the Colonel as the teams trudged off the soggy court, each unsated by the lack of an outcome. "I've got to live with this until next week."
With files from Chico
March 31, 2013
A tale of two goalies
This is a story of two goaltenders: one desperate to play but unable; the other the reluctant saviour.
Fate, and Twizzler's ongoing attendance inconsistency and injury issues, have put them on a collision course for the Stanley Stick championship series.
Sunday, Chico won his second game in as many starts since he returned from a knee injury that had sidelined him since the preseason. More important than the 13-9 line score though, was the poise and confidence he exhibited between the pipes.
"He's stepping out of the crease and challenging shooters," said Bam Bam of the comeback creaseminder. "You know he's got his confidence and that gave us confidence. We knew when we had to back up and we knew when we could be aggressive and pinch."
For his part, Chico said he's beginning to feel at home in the crease again.
"I'm feeling a lot better," said the veteran shotstopper. "I'm seeing the ball pretty well. The guys are quick but I don't think that part of the game has left me."
His fear of reinjuring his knee is also diminishing, as he throws himself from post to post with abandon. At least twice he robbed Doo on cross-crease set-ups.
"I've gotta keep working laterally," said Chico. "There were a lot of two-on-ones today and I managed to get over."
"He's reading the ball well," said Lak Attack of his rearguard rival. "He's on his game."
And so is Lak Attack.
Despite expressing his ongoing dismay with being handed the goaltending responsibilities week after week when Twizzler fails to report, the versatile veteran has quietly put together an MVP season, saving shots and saving the game.
With two regular season games left before the finale, Lak Attack is resigned to finishing out the year in net.
"I've just got to commit that I'm going to be the goalie, and that's got to be my focus," said the reluctant rearguard.
But to be on the safe side, he's also doing dry land fitness training to be able to answer the call should Twizzler retake the goaltending reins.
March 24, 2013
Holt sparks win
Holt scored early and often to spark his team to a decisive 20-14 win in Sunday's game.
It was the second straight game in which the would-be magnate has confounded opposing defenders, eluding their attention and finding unlikely ways to get his stick on the ball.
"It seems like it hits his stick and goes right into the net no matter what you do," said Weeble of his rival. "You cover his forehand and it just hits the back of his stick."
"He's got a deceptively quick shot," said Bam Bam. "He can pick the goalie's weak spots."
There was no shortage of those early in Sunday's game, as Lak Attack struggled with his unexpected role after Twizzler was a surprise no-show. Playing the give-and-go with Doo, Holt time and again managed to skulk past flat-footed defenders and convert his opportunities.
"You notice when a guy takes his eye off you and you try to take advantage," said Holt. "You can't get lazy."
Even without the benefit of a spare player to spell off tiring legs, Holt and his mates were able to build a lead as large as eight goals. Behind them, Chico was solid in his first full-game start of the season after he hurt his knee in the preseason.
"We didn't have the jump we needed," said Bam Bam of his side's feeble effort early.
"We weren't shooting enough early in the game," said Weeble. "We were trying to be too fancy, make too many cute passes."
By the time they did find their game, it was too late. And their nemesis, Holt, had shifted his attention to the defensive zone.
"I enjoy stopping people from scoring more than I enjoy scoring," said Holt.
March 18, 2013
The Living Legend will miss Sunday's game and is a game time decision for the following week as he continues to cope with a painful foot injury that has hobbled him for much of the past six weeks.
The wily veteran has plantar fasciitis in his right foot, an inflammation of the tissue and muscles that connect the heel to the arch. He says the condition worsens through each game he plays, leaving him hobbled and barely mobile for days afterward.
"I know my inability to keep pace has hurt my team," said the Legend in a statement. "I want to be in the best form possible for the Stanley Stick which is only a month away. Hopefully a little rest, and a lot of ice and stretching will help make that happen."
The Legend, Sunday Morning Road Hockey's founding father and most senior player, has enjoyed a remarkably injury-free career. At one point his iron man streak stretched over three seasons, unmatched by any other player.
Plantar fasciitis is commonly suffered by distance runners and is often caused by shoes with inadequate support. The Legend said he likely succumbed because of a new pair of runners he acquired at the beginning of the season. They've since been replaced.
March 17, 2013
Real work begins for Chico
On a rare dry day Sunday, it rained. Goalies.
For the first time this season, three shotstoppers suited up for Sunday's game. That's because Chico would be taking to the crease to test his healing knee.
And while his team was pummelled 20-9, the silver lining was the veteran goalie's beaming smile after playing two periods sliding the big leg pads across the gritty concrete, stabbing out his glove, doing the splits to make a toe save. Even a tumble on one of his offensive shifts that elicited gasps from the others on the court didn't phase him.
The knee was sound, unbowed.
Now the real work begins.
"I need to get up to game shape," said the comeback creaseminder. "The speed of the game is really intense so I had some timing issues. I've got to work on my rebound control and find a little more luck."
He's got four more games to get his game together in time for the Stanley Stick championship series. The rest of the roadsters are looking forward to getting consistent goaltending in the season's home stretch, after a rotating cast of volunteers stepped in as both Chico and Twizzler overcame their knee problems.
"Chico and Twizzler are the backbone of this league," said Doo. "It kinda throws the rhythm of the league out a little bit when you don't have those goalies."
One of those super subs, Lak Attack, is especially keen to unburden his legs of the big pads.
"The name of the game is speed," said the veteran centreman. "I've got to get the legs going to be able to make the transition game."
He got that opportunity for one period Sunday, when Chico pulled an extra stint in net for the final period. But with the game already out of reach, there was little opportunity to make an impact. Still their opponents were vigilant.
"You don't want to give him any space," said Doo of Lak Attack's return to running. "He's got the speed, he's got the shot, and we had to pick up our defensive game."
March 10, 2013
Transition to victory
Colonel and his mates may have lost an hour's sleep before Sunday's game, but they didn't lose a step moving the ball up court from defence to offence quickly and efficiently to power their way to a 15-12 win.
The transition game is always important on the small court where defensive plays convert to offensive opportunities in a heartbeat. But never more so than when there are no spare players to spell off tired teammates.
That's been the rule rather than the exception for most games this season.
Sunday, the Colonel, Holt and Living Legend moved the ball crisply up court to leave opposing defenders spinning flat-footed and their goaltender without rebound support.
"If you can play a little less aggressively on defence you get caught up a little more in the transition and that kills the other team," said Colonel, of his team's triumphant resurgence from an early 5-2 deficit.
"The transition game is huge," said Holt. "When there's no sub you're really trying to make calculations on the fly whether you should run after every shot. If you keep it short and use your angles you save your energy."
That conservation of effort paid dividends late in the game as the two wily veterans and their sophomore defenceman were able to convert their scoring chances.
"They just had a bit more time to do what they wanted to do," said Lak Attack of the relentless bombardment that eventually did his side in. "They were able to finish."
Of course, pressing up court couldn't happen without a yeoman effort in the net behind them, and Twizzler was up to the task in his first start in two weeks.
"You've got to have a lot of confidence in your goalie," said Holt.
"If you know the goalie is likely to make the first save, and even the second and third save, then that means we can cheat a little here and there," said Colonel.
March 03, 2013
Chico and the plan
But as he continues to strengthen the wounded knee that's kept him out of the lineup since the preseason, the stalwart shotstopper is being cast in an unfamiliar role. He's trying to score, instead of stopping other players from scoring.
The role reversal is the next step in his long rehabilitation that will hopefully put him back between the pipes for at least a few games prior to the start of the Stanley Stick championship series.
It's been a gruelling road back, said Chico.
"We're working on stops and starts, on the balance beam and doing a lot of running while carrying weights," said Chico of the rehab regime devised by his medical team. "We'll go back to the gym, ice the knee down and see how it is in the next couple of days."
Feeling no pain after his hour-long return as the swing man in a spirited half-court game, Chico is confident he's on track.
"The guys were taking it pretty easy on me out there," said Chico. "If I'm to get back into game shape I certainly have to be treated like everyone else."
That's easier said than done, said Bam Bam, as the roadsters worked to integrate the rearguard regular into their offensive and defensive game plans.
"It's just like any other time you have a new player," said Bam Bam. "We tried to get him the ball as much as we could, get him in front of the net digging for rebounds."
That created some unsettling moments for Lak Attack, who's accustomed to scoring on Chico rather than preventing him from scoring.
"It's a strange feeling," said the super sub, who's filled in admirable as Chico and Twizzler work through their injuries. "It's a bit different to see Chico out there making some nice plays."
He better get used to it, said Chico. His plan is to play two more games on defence, working on his conditioning and testing his knee then, if all remains well with the jumbled joint he'll return to the crease to extend his Stanley Stick championship streak to three.
"I think right now I've just got to work on my conditioning and getting the legs up to speed."
February 17, 2013
Chico battling to get back
Chico is optimistic he'll be back between the pipes. But whether that happens this season, in time for this Stanley Stick championship series, will be determined by his doctors and the extensive rehabilitation regime they've tasked him with.
The shotstopping stalwart has yet to strap on the goalie pads this season after he injured his knee at a charity road hockey tournament in the pre-season. And while he managed to avoid surgery, the road back to the court has been long and frustrating.
"I just want to be healed as quickly as possible and get back to playing," said Chico in an email interview. "I've never had any kind of prolonged injury and it's been really hard not to just ignore the physiotherapist and surgeon."
The reliable rearguard had missed only a handful of games in his first two seasons, making his absence all the more difficult to endure.
"It's a big loss in my life," said Chico. "I've honestly avoided the (court) because I don't want to put even more pressure on myself to ignore the medical staff advice."
That advice has just embarked Chico on a program of speed walking for one hour every other day. He'll have to do that for two weeks before he's allowed to run. Then he'll have to strengthen his joint to endure the stops, starts and splays that come with his butterfly backstopping style.
Chico said he's at least four to six weeks away from even considering a return to action. And even then he's likely to ease himself back by playing a number of games on defence before strapping on the pads again.
That puts him perilously close to the Stanley Stick, which is scheduled to be played in late April.
"When I do come back, better watch out," said Chico, who's backstopped two successive Stanley Stick titles. "I want to be in the net when it counts for everyone. Even if I'm not the MVP for the finals, just making one important save that can keep my team in the game is what I dream about at night."
February 10, 2013
Freed from the weighty burden of the goalie pads, and able to streak up and down the entire court, Colonel owned the first full game to be played in weeks. The irascible veteran scored 14 times in his team's 20-8 victory, tying Kid's longstanding record for most goals in a game to 20.
Ironically, it may have been Colonel's penance between the pipes that fuelled his offensive outburst. Strapping on the pads as the league weathered injuries to regular starters Twizzler and Chico, Colonel said he was able to study the moves of other players, look for the edge that would allow him to find open court.
"You get a bit of a chance to sit back a bit and watch other players," said Colonel, who scored 10 goals in a row, including all five his team tallied in the third period. "You learn a bit about their skill set that, when you play out, you can leverage to your benefit."
He did just that, seemingly scoring at will from every part of the court.
"Defensively, we just couldn't contain him," said Bam Bam.
As his side put the game out of reach, Colonel's linemates made it their mission to give him the best chance to break Kid's scoring record.
"At that point we were up quite a bit, so there was a lot of generosity to feed me the ball," said Colonel
"That opportunity doesn't come around very often and it's exciting for everybody," said Yak. "It's the kind of thing if you have the choice and both of you have good scoring opportunities, you're going to give it off just to see if he can get the record."
But early on, it didn't seem the Colonel and his mates had anything going their way.
Starting the game two-on-two against Bam Bam and the Living Legend, Colonel and Yak struggled, getting caught up court as the speedy Bam Bam drove the counterattack hard to the net.
"We started out slow," admitted Colonel. "I don't think we were ready for the two on two game. Yak and I were getting caught up court and the other team was burying us."
The late arrival of Holt seemed to right the listing ship.
"We started to do a good job of getting passes onto sticks," said Yak. "There were a lot of times we were making passes into traffic but they were always going tape to tape."
That precision was just too much for their overmatched opponents, who sputtered at both ends of the court.
"Every time we had a chance, we seemed to be gripping our sticks too tight," said Bam Bam. "We were missing some good scoring opportunities."