November 29, 2015

Carmen electric in Sunday Morning debut

Joker just wanted to introduce a new player to road hockey. He didn’t know that would end up costing him Sunday’s game.

Carmen, Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s first female player in almost 20 years, whacked a rebound past the sprawling netminder to give her side a hard-fought 12-11 sudden death victory.

“She grinded it out all day long,” said the shocked shotstopper of his feminine nemesis. “She deserved that goal.”

In fact, Carmen was one of a trio of new players making their debut at the courts, an unprecedented injection of new talent that insured the first full-court game with substitutes to spell off tired legs in weeks.

That created some unique challenges for the veterans as they tried to learn the tendencies of their new teammates and foibles of their foes.

“I don’t think I’ve ever played a game like this before,” said Doo of the new recruits. “You’ve got to learn to trust them. You don’t know what they bring to the table.”

The goalies especially felt the pressure to build a book on the new shooters, said Joker.

“You’ve got to learn quick,” said the veteran netminder. “Some guys have got a quick shot, some guys have got a quick move. If you don’t figure that out quickly you’re going to be in trouble.”

But it was the league’s most senior player that gave Joker the most trouble early.

The Living Legend scored five of his side’s first six goals as Joker struggled to find the founding father’s squib shots from every angle.

“You’ve got to shake those off,” said Joker. “Each play can be the best or worst play of your life, so you’ve just got to shake it off.”

Fortunately his mates were equal to the challenge as they quickly answered and even held the lead at the game’s first break.

“The game was pretty much as tight as you could get,” said Doo. “It was back and forth right to the end.”

That may have been at least partly due to the slippery conditions with the concrete courts slicked with frost from the cold temperatures. End-to-end rushes were at a premium and speedsters like Lak Attack and Bam Bam were mostly neutralized by the precarious footing.

“It was a challenge for both sides,” said Lak Attack.

“That really slowed the game down,” said Doo.

But, said Joker, the slippery areas in the crease worked to the goalies’ advantage.

“I like the side to side movement,” said the big backstopper. “It makes it a bit easier.”

Until he ended up on his belly, flailing at a rebound he couldn’t reach.

“All the new players played really well,” said Doo.

Posted by jaysuburb at 09:10 PM | Comments (2)

November 22, 2015

Commissioner calls for cooler heads

This should have been an upbeat story about a fun, competitive game played under difficult circumstances.

Instead, it’s an intervention.

Once again the roadsters found themselves a player short of the quorum needed for a proper game Sunday. But if there’s one thing they have perfected over the past two seasons of attendance challenges, it's fine-tuning the half-court game to a satisfying substitute.

It’s a demanding workout that tests the players on offence and defence, keeps their head in the game as they track possession, and sharpens the goalie’s skills as he faces a barrage from both sides. The atmosphere is more congenial than combative; everyone’s glad at least there is a game of some description.

In the waning moments of Sunday’s game, that spirit shattered.

At least one roadster said he’s had enough; he’s not returning.

The spirit of camaraderie has been the driving force that has kept Sunday Morning Road Hockey alive for 24 years. Maintaining that spirit in a competitive context is a delicate weekly balancing act that requires a commitment from all the players all the time.

Sure, there have been transgressions. The court is small, the space confined; everyone carries sticks, the evil orange plastic ball can hurt, especially when it’s cold.

But at the end of every game, it’s not the score that’s as important as the fact there was a game at all; there will be another next week. And win or lose, players walk off the court feeling they’d done their best, had a good workout, scored a goal or two, had a few laughs.

That’s what keeps the roadsters coming out in rainstorms, shovelling and chipping ice off the courts when it's cold, adapting the rules when there’s not enough players.

When that doesn’t happen, when a game ends in acrimony and bad feelings, it’s an assault on the game itself.

There are no stats in Sunday Morning Road Hockey. There’s no standings, no win-loss record. There’s just the game, reset every week.

No victory on the scoreboard, no dispute between players, no battle for position on the court, is worth imperilling that.

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November 15, 2015

Effort fizzles after furious comeback

Chico said he could feel the pressure after his team battled back from a 5-1 deficit to tie Sunday’s game. But a couple of bad goals squelched their momentum and cost them an 11-8 defeat.

Playing once again without the benefit of spare players to spell off tired legs, Chico and his mates struggled early to find their pace. Speedy forwards like Lak Attack and Bam Bam ran circles around flat-footed defenders.

“We got off to a quick start,” said Bam Bam. “We had some good chemistry, we got the ball to the net and looked for rebound chances.”.

More often than not, they found them, leaving Chico waving at air as he was beaten on second and third efforts.

“A couple of those will keep me up at night thinking about what I should have done differently,” said Chico.

But a pair of seeing-eye goals by the Living Legend turned the game’s tide, sparking his side’s furious comeback.

Once the score was tied, though, the effort waned.

“We got a little bit complacent on our back check,” said Chico.

That allowed Wink to find his range with his laser slapshot, while his linemates cruised the crease looking to capitalize on wayward rebounds. More often than not, they did.

“You feel like you let the team down when you let one of those in,” said Chico. “You feel like you should have had it. You have to stay focussed.”

Bam Bam said it was only a matter of time before his side prevailed. They just had to stay patient and not panic.

“Momentum goes back and forth every game, and most of us have played long enough to know that if you just keep playing your game, bounces eventually go your way,” said Bam Bam. “We knew we just had to stick with our gameplan.”

At the other end of the court, Chico said his side abandoned the formula that got them back into the game.

“I think our team showed you can climb back into it,” said the veteran showstopper.

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November 08, 2015

Experience pays off in half-court win

Combined, Lak Attack, Colonel and Living Legend have more than 50 years of Sunday Morning Road Hockey experience.

Their veteran guile and wile served them well in their 10-6 win over their younger, speedier opponents.

That’s because it was a half-court game that rewards patience and positioning more than it favours sheer speed.

“it’s a control game,” said Colonel. “Experience is excellent to have to hold the ball and make the right passes when you can.”

With Lak Attack commanding the neutral zone, his senior teammates time and again created scoring opportunities from deflections and bounces off the end wall. The Legend found the back of the net four times and Colonel contributed a handful more.

“(Lak’s) a possession monster,” said Doo, who played his first game of the regular season. “With his patience and vision, you combine that with Colonel and Legend, it’s quite a team to play against.”

The veteran trio meshed right from the opening face-off and never trailed in the game.

“The team that comes together and is unified is the team that comes out on top,” said Colonel.

Meanwhile the other side struggled to find chemistry with their veteran anchor, Wink, who had trouble adjusting to the unique rhythm of the half-court game after his five-year hiatus. In fact, at one point he lost track of the possession and rifled a seeing eye shot over Chico’s shoulder as his side was defending.

“He’s such a smart player, but the game has increased in speed,” said Doo.

The half-court alignment was necessitated when Joker was a last-minute scratch.

Posted by jaysuburb at 08:57 PM | Comments (2)

November 01, 2015

Wink's comeback a soggy setback on the scoreboard

Sunday’s chilling rain was no match for Wink.

The notorious gameshow host gone bad missed five seasons to overcome a crisis with cancer that left him with titanium rods in his spine and a long rehabilitation to be able to walk again. Let alone run up and down the road hockey courts.

But Sunday that was exactly what he was determined to do. And the steady downpour that kept lesser roadsters indoors and dry wasn’t going to stop him.

“I’m excited to be back and I’m confident it will be the first game of many,” said Wink.

That was enough to lift the spirits of the rest of the handful of roadsters who braved the deplorable conditions.

“On a rainy day it all of a sudden became nice and sunny as soon as we saw Wink’s smile and the walk we’re used to,” said Lak Attack. “It was a very pleasant surprise.”

But Wink’s absence from game action didn’t diminish his competitive fire. He didn’t just want to play again, he wanted to win.

Unfortunately his teammates came out flat and never found the spark they needed in a 15-4 loss. Perhaps it got soaked in the deep puddles pooling behind each net.

“They were really good and we were really bad,” said Wink. “We had some chances and couldn’t finish. And we didn’t check very well.”

The lack of commitment to defence was especially stinging when Big D nearly reprised his premiere performance two weeks ago when he scored five times; this week he found the back of the net four times, including a mid-air tap-in that eluded Joker’s flailing glove hand.

“Generally the second-best team on the day loses, and we were definitely the second best team out there, if not the third,” said Wink.

Still, the stalwart veteran shouldn’t hang his head too low, said Lak Attack.

“He’s worked hard,” said the veteran speedster of his frequent foe. “He’s out there walking, he’s in the gym, he’s watching what he eats; rehab is hard work and he’s put in a lot of time.”

Maybe not quite enough, said Wink, who was critical of his own performance. To a point.

“I think I got here on time and after that everything went bad,” said Wink. “But for the first time out in five years, I’m not dying, so that’s good.”

For Wink and for the league, said Lak Attack.

“Today was a good day for road hockey to have him back.”

Posted by jaysuburb at 08:18 PM | Comments (6)

October 25, 2015

Veteran cashes in offensive opportunities

Lak Attack may have lost a step over his long career at the road hockey courts. But he hasn’t lost his boundless energy and enthusiasm for the game.

Sunday, those were in abundance as the veteran roadster was the first to reach 10 goals in a half-court game of rolling two-on-two.

“Lak seems to find the open court no matter where he is,” said Joker, the lone goalie available to strap on the pads Sunday, necessitating the semi-match. “He’s got more energy than anyone on this court.”

Lak took full advantage of his offensive opportunities, twice cashing in when defensive players were confused about their checking partner and left the sly centreman unguarded with a free path to the net.

“You’ve got to get the first pass off, and then try to get open for the second pass,” said Lak Attack. “It can definitely be a challenge though, when you’ve got different linemates.”

The modified rules were enacted when only five players, plus a goalie, showed up at the courts for the season’s second regular game. Essentially every player played for himself as substitutes rolled through the lineup; a player registered a goal to their name if they were on offence when the ball beat Joker.

Lak Attack said the attendance woes in the season’s first two games have been discouraging.

“We’re off to a bit of a slow start,” said the veteran. “It’s a changing of the guard. We’ve got a lot of young guys who’ve had changes in their lives they can’t control.”

But Joker said the paucity of players hasn’t diminished his enthusiasm.

“I live for this Sunday morning,” said the feisty shotstopper. “I’ve got no problem amping myself up for the game whether there’s two players or ten.”

Posted by jaysuburb at 10:12 PM | Comments (0)

October 18, 2015

Big D contributes plenty of O in win

Big D may be small, but he had a major role in his team's 20-12 win in Sunday's regular season opener.

The young son of Nouvelle Guy teamed up with his father to account for all but four of their side's goals. He'd been plucked from the warm-up to at least give his teammates a chance to catch their breath while subbing off.

Instead, he showed an insatiable desire to drive to the net, picked the high glove-side corner for his first career goal then followed that up with four more in his Sunday Morning debut.

"I don't think we gave him enough respect," said Chico, who was repeatedly confounded by the father-son duo crashing his crease and creating scoring opportunities. "We left him in those dirty areas and he obviously has a knack for finding the ball and finishing."

Big D's ability to find himself open may have been at least partly due to his dad's furious goal-scoring that seemed destined to shatter league records as he nudged into double-digits just after the game was half over. Defenders keyed on Nouvelle Guy whenever the ball went his way, leaving his progeny unguarded.

"Nouvelle got a burst of energy playing with his son," said Bam Bam. "He was on fire today."

Sunday's game was played in a steady drizzle, slicking the concrete court and slowing speedsters. It also created challenges for the goalies, who expected to be able to slide easily but often found themselves grounded by their dampened equipment.

"You think you're going to be able to slide, but you can't," said Chico who found himself caught out of position repeatedly. "It's going to be like this for the next three months, so we better get used to it."

Bam Bam said the slippery court made all the players cautious.

"It's the first game, so you want to take care of yourself," said the power forward who struggled to find the net.

Tentative play almost let the underdogs back into the game, as they got to within four goals early in the final period.

"When you have a big lead, sometimes you become complacent," said Bam Bam. "We were guilty of that, but we pulled through in the end."

Thanks to Big D, who scored twice more after completing his surprise hat trick.

"They worked hard, and that effort showed in the final score," said Chico.

Posted by jaysuburb at 08:39 PM | Comments (2)

September 22, 2015

Training camp looms

The roadsters are shaking off their summer sunscreen. Training camp for Sunday Morning Road Hockey's 24th season opens Oct. 4. The regular season begins Oct. 18.

For veteran roadsters, the season opening ritual is a chance to test their legs and determine if they've got another year in them. That's especially true for players who endured injuries last season.

Chico lost almost the entire season to vertigo. But a solid, symptom-free performance in the mid-summer scrimmage has given him optimism for the coming campaign.

Regaining his job as a starting shotstopper won't be easy though, as he'll have to displace one of Eight Ball, Joker, Twizzler and possibly even Radar, who stepped between the pipes and performed admirably during last spring's Stanley Stick thriller. Also able to strap on the pads is veteran backup Lak Attack.

A cloud also hangs over the future of Yak. His knee gave out last season and the added responsibility of new fatherhood will add to the challenges he faces to recapture his whirling, up-tempo game.

The latter may have proved to be the Yoko Ono to Bing's road hockey career. The addition of a fourth mouth to feed in his voluminous brood of offspring may be a baby to far to allow him a weekly getaway to the courts.

Of course all the roadsters are wondering about the annual comeback status of Beetle Boy, and they also await the hyped return of Wink to the blueline.

The answers to some of those mysteries will become more clear beginning Oct. 4.

Posted by jaysuburb at 10:51 PM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2015

Chico spins his way back into lineup

Chico may have been spun around in the crease a few times in Wednesday's special midsummer scrimmage, but for the first time in almost a year, he wasn't feeling spinny.

The veteran goalie missed all of last year's regular season with a mysterious case of vertigo. The ailment kept him from the courts, prevented him from even functioning as a normal person.

But a breakthrough earlier this summer helped Chico regain his equilibrium, resume his regular activities.

Wednesday's game was a declaration that he's ready to fight to regain his place between the pipes.

"I'm ready for the battle," said Chico, smiling despite his side's 13-10 loss in the evening game. "It's going to be hard. Other goalies have played well and it's going to be interesting to see if I can win it back."

That challenge to upstart replacements who stepped into the void left by Chico's injury was music to the roadster's ears.

"It's a good problem to have a lot of goalies," said Doo. "Chico know what he needs to do to be successful."

"It's nice to have him out here and he's feeling healthy," said Bam Bam.

Not that Chico didn't have some trepidation.

"You can practice all you want, but the speed of the game in a game situation is a lot different," said the veteran shotstopper. "There's a lot of speed out there so you've got to get your timing back."

Bam Bam thinks Chico is already on track.

"He was tracking the ball well and that's always important for a goalie," said the feisty forward. "His rebound control was spot on. He kept us in the game for a long stretch."

Doo said the game was a good barometer for all the players to get a sense of the work that lies ahead of them before training camp opens in October.

"This game is a lot looser, so you can make more mistakes and get away with it," said the veteran speedster.

Bam Bam said none of the players can afford to coast the rest of the summer.

"Different guys have different training programs," he said. "Today was a chance to test their legs, test their chemistry."

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August 13, 2015

Midsummer scrimmage to warm up season

The summer heat has settled in.
But road hockey season isn't far off.
The annual Midsummer scrimmage will be held Wednesday, Aug. 19, 7 p.m. at the hockey courts.
The casual game is a chance for the roadsters to test their off-season fitness, reacquaint themselves with their equipment and assess lineup gaps for the coming season.
The game lasts until the goalies can no longer see the ball. Afterwards the roadsters can convene at a local pub to compare bruises.

NOTE: Due to huge amounts of SPAM hitting the comments, please go to the Facebook page linked on the right side of the site to leave comments, check in for the scrimmage.

Posted by jaysuburb at 09:28 PM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2015

Stanley Stick champions hang on not to lose

Doo and his mates barely had the energy to pop the champagne bottle when they won the Stanley Stick on Sunday. Or rather, didn't lose it.

The champions were forced to a decisive mini-game by their persistent opponents who refused to give in even as they lost their starting goalie, Joker, and then one of their key offensive battlers, Nouvelle Guy. With a patchwork lineup that included a hobbled Yak in street clothes planted in the offensive zone, and Radar reprising his goaltending heroics from the opener, the underdogs overcame a 15-12 deficit at the last break to force the extra game with a 20-18 win.

But that effort took a toll.

Looking to exploit Radar's inexperience and the odd-man rushes they enjoyed because of Yak's inability to run on his wounded knee, the champions buzzed to a quick 5-0 advantage.

But the underdogs weren't about to give up easily, as they replied with three quick goals of their own to close within two and cause more than a few anxious glowers from the other side of the court.

"I think we let up and we were angry with ourselves," said Doo. "But we really wanted it. We had that killer instinct."

Indeed, they went on to outscore their overmatched and exhausted opponents 5-1 to claim the Stanley Stick trophy. But after more than four hours of play, they were barely able to hoist it.

"We had to grind today," said Doo. "We didn't want to lose it."

Although they almost did.

Joker returned from his mysterious absence to strap on the pads for the underdogs, but the rust of his three-week layoff quickly became apparent as three of the first four shots he faced squibbed past him in most unlikely ways, soft shots between his pads, lobs to the far corners.

The veteran netminder fought to regain his composure and slowly his team was able to fight its way back into the game. They tied it at 12 before giving up three straight, and Joker said he had to leave for another commitment. The comeback train seemed ready to come off the rails once and for all.

Their chances to force a mini-game took another hit when Nouvelle Guy also had to depart early, leaving the underdogs to look to Yak, who'd dropped by to watch, to pick up a stick and try to keep his side in the game.

He did that and more.

Planted permanently in the offensive zone, he was able to take advantage of the opposition's tiring legs to take stretch passes hard to the net, or protect the ball until his teammates were able to join him.

"We put together a game plan that was opportunistic," said Colonel. "We gave up some chances in the hope of springing a guy up the court, and it worked."

Meanwhile, Radar was standing on his head in a defensive capacity. Or rather sucking up every shot into his chest protector, frustrating opposition snipers and boosting his mates' confidence.

"He just gobbled up the ball and slowed down the play for us," said Lak Attack. "That allowed us to structure our game a little bit."

The underdogs fought back to take their first lead, 18-17, then scored two unanswered goals after their opponents had tied it up again at 18.

"It's amazing what can happen when a team starts to believe in each other," said Colonel.

But the miracle ultimately fell short.

Doo and Bam Bam wrested control early in the mini-game, peppering shots at Radar, hoping to create rebounds or find corners.

"We had that killer instinct," said Doo.

The underdogs' comeback stalled at 5-3. They were spent.

"When you put a lot into the end of a game like that, you can carry some of it over, but you're also tired," said Colonel.

"We kept grinding," said Lak Attack. "We knew we were in tough for the mini. It's just too hard to sustain when you're short a guy."

Doo's 10 goals in the first game and another six in the mini earned him the Conn Stick Award as the series MVP.
The roadsters were all so exhausted at the end of the Sunday's marathon finale, which lasted more than four hours, they didn't have the energy to go for their traditional season-ending gathering at a local pub. Look for an announcement here for just such a gathering in the near future.

Posted by jaysuburb at 08:45 PM | Comments (8)

April 19, 2015

Depleted rosters take toll in Stick opener

Untimely injuries and poorly timed travel put the roadsters in a precarious predicament on Sunday.

Even as the spotlight shone brightly on the opening of the climactic Stanley Stick championship series, it was a dark day for road hockey.

Barely enough players filled out the lineups for both sides, staggering players, leaving them gasping for air. It was clear from the opening face off, the team best able to manage its energy would prevail. In the end it was the young speedsters Doo and Bam Bam, anchored by the wily veteran Living Legend who hung on for a 20-15 victory.

The fleet-footed youngsters took the game to their opponents right from the get-go, jumping aggressively into the offensive zone to create scoring opportunities. Six times in a row they converted, half of them by the Living Legend.

"We played well as a team right from the start," said Doo. "When you have that chemistry that can really give you the advantage in a three-on-three game."

"It didn't start the way we wanted," said Lak Attack, who was the goalie victimized by those six straight goals.

A subsequent change of netminders changed the timbre of the game.

Radar, making only his third start since being called up, declared the pace was just too intense and volunteered to take over in net.

But he wasn't just taking shelter between the pipes. He owned his new role, making a number of key saves as his team broke through on the scoreboard. In fact, they outscored the game's winners 15-14 the rest of the marathon three-hour game.

"It changed the tempo of the game," said Lak Attack of the roster shakeup. "Once we changed the goalie we were persistent and we were able to make it a game."

More than once they were able to shake the confidence of the leaders, shatter their poise and create mistakes.

"When they got their legs we had to weather a storm or two," said Doo. "There were a lot of garbage goals but I don't think we lost our heads."

Twice the underdogs were able to creep to within four goals. But they couldn't break through.

Still, the signs are there for a strong effort in next week's finale.

"We have lots of hope," said Lak Attack.

The leaders will have to be at the top of their game to sweep, said Doo.

"We know we have to put our noses to the grindstone right from the beginning," he said. "Hopefully our chemistry will carry over."

Joker was AWOL once again, and Eight Ball was a surprise scratch. Their absence was compounded by injuries to Yak, who aggravated a tender knee during last Sunday's regular season finale, and Bing, who sported a brace all week to nurse a jammed wrist.
The depleted lineups exacted a toll on the usual frenetic pace and tripwire intensity of the championship.
"It's totally different," said Colonel of the lack of spares to spell off tired players. "We depend on each other to play, so it really does affect the play."
"There's lots of odd-man rushes," said Lak Attack.
"it would have been better to have more guys," said Doo. "But both teams brought the Stick intensity."
Players on the injured list for Sunday's opener will be eligible for the finale, with a placement card pull to disperse them if necessary.

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April 12, 2015

Goalie worries cloud rainy regular season finale

On the eve of the Stanley Stick, Joker has gone missing.

And that's causing all the roadsters to hold their sticks a little tighter.

None more so than Lak Attack, who was an unexpected starter between the pipes in Sunday's regular season finale after Eight Ball also scratched.

The versatile veteran was so caught off guard, a slow start put his team down by three goals early. But the superior speed and feisty forechecking of Bam Bam and Scooby sparked a third period comeback that culminated in a 13-12 win in sudden death.

After the backstop bonanza that allowed the league to weather the season-long injury woes of Chico with goalies to spare, Joker's unexplained disappearance caught everyone off guard.

In fact, the sophomore shotstopper seems to have gone off the grid. He hasn't commented on stories nor replied to text messages enquiring about his game status.

"It's a concern," said Yak, who used Sunday's finale to test the readiness of his injured knee for the Stanley Stick finale that begins next week. He hadn't played since suffering a slight dislocation of the joint.

"You have to prepare for the worst," said Lak Attack. "It will be a challenge and it will impact the game. I won't have a chance to fine tune what I need."

The worst reared it's ugly head early in Sunday's game, as the stalwart backup fought to shake the rust off his leg pads. His teammates also struggled as their speed advantage was neutralized by variable weather conditions that slicked the court with rain, then hail, then rain again.

That gave Colonel and Yak license to unleash cannon shots from the point as Bing and the Unnamed Rookie mixed it up in the crease.

"It was pretty slippery," said Yak. "The last thing you want is a loose jockstrap, and when that's bugging you you really have to take it easy."

But as Lak Attack settled into his newfound role, his team responded with confidence and more assured footing. Scooby, Bam Bam and Living Legend passed the evil orange plastic ball with aplomb while Nouvelle Guy charged hard to the crease.

The Gallic go-getter was rewarded when his low shot from the point squeezed between Twizzler's legs to give his side their sudden death victory.

"We outplayed them through the game," said Lak Attack. "The guys kept going."

"They started executing and were able to score," said Yak.

Scooby's game was his last for about a year, as he heads to South America on an extended scouting trip.
Beckenbauer and Holt are also out of the country and will miss the Stanley Stick.

To be eligible for this year's championship series, roadsters must have played at least two regular season games. That means the roadster who has yet to be named can play. But Velma is out of luck after he made his only start of the season just last week.

Posted by jaysuburb at 07:08 PM | Comments (11)

April 05, 2015

Eight Ball snookers scorers

The long skipping point shot by the Colonel that just eluded Eight Ball's pad made the battling backstop a loser.

It also gave him the victory.

There was no rest for the substitute shotstopper Sunday as he did double duty in the absence of regular rearguards Twizzler and Joker.

But if Eight Ball's schizophrenic role in the half-court game wore him down, he wasn't showing any signs as time and again he came up with clutch saves en route to a marathon 10-8 victory. Er, loss.

"He started off sharp right from the get-go and he just sustained that throughout the whole game," said Lak Attack, who was frequently frustrated by Eight Ball's lightning glove and outstretched leg pad. "He saw pretty much everything."

"He played great for both sides," said Scooby.

Eight Ball's effort was especially remarkable as the constant assault of oncoming forwards from either team meant little opportunity to catch his breath, regroup, gather his faculties. And it had been almost three months since his last start between the pipes.

"Within a few minutes you get the sequence of your players," said Eight Ball of the challenge presented by keeping the teams straight when both are coming at you. "It doesn't take much for me to be prepared, the agility always seems to be there."

That agility served and frustrated players from both teams. But, in the end, it was persistence that won the day.

"If you're tenacious on the ball it's going to pay off for you," said Lak Attack.

But it wasn't his side that cashed in. After twice holding two-goal advantages, they fell behind for the first time at 8-7 before tying it. Then Scooby scored from the slot after being fed a seeing-eye pass from the side of the net by the Living Legend before Colonel ended the game with his long blast from the point.

"The game really dragged on and we had to grind it out," said Scooby. "I was wondering when the game might ever end." will be making an experimental step into livecasting segments of next week's regular season finale via the Periscope app on Twitter. If it proves manageable, further casts will be transmitted live from the Stanley Stick.
To view download the free Periscope app and follow @jaysuburb.

Sunday's game featured a guest appearance by veteran agitator Velma, who proved he hasn't lost a step while adding considerable facial hair.

Posted by jaysuburb at 09:19 PM | Comments (16)

March 22, 2015

Empty court stalls season's momentum

Stanley Stick fever seems to have turned into the flu.

With the start of the two-week championship finale exactly a month away, action on the road hockey courts should be at a frenzied pitch as goalies hone their game, snipers sharpen their aim and Colonel ramps up his intensity.

Instead the veteran instigator slumped in his truck, dejected that a lack of players had scuttled Sunday's game.

Sunday Morning Road Hockey seems to have hit an attendance crisis at a critical juncture of the season. Last week five roadsters were forced to play a modified half-court game by the lack of quorum.

It's a discouraging and disconcerting turn to a season that had been progressing so well.

The injection of enthusiastic newcomers like Eight Ball, as well as the continuing commitment from veterans, ensured substitute players crowding the sidelines for many of the early season games. Better yet, the return of of Twizzler swelled the goalie pool to four despite the injury to Chico that has kept him out of action since the pre-season.

But that momentum has faltered.

Instead of careening headlong towards the Stanley Stick, the league is lurching. Even the roguesters were able to get their crew together for a game, while the Sunday Morning court sat barren, joyless, eerily quiet.

And with three players - Beckenbauer, Holt and Scooby - already declaring their intention to miss the season's climactic showdown, the prospects for a rousing, intense finale are fading.

There's still time to right the listing ship.

Conditions should be ideal for the three games remaining in the regular season. Busy roadsters like Lak Attack and Doo should be finished their off-court commitments.

An all-hands show of force for at least two of those games will propel the roadsters into the championship season at the height of their game. And increase the likelihood of a series for the ages.

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March 15, 2015

Adventure duo to be denied Stick

Beckenbauer will not defend his Conn Stick award as the Stanley Stick's most valuable player.

The crafty centreman and his frequent foe, Holt, played their last game of the season Sunday as they depart for an extended adventure to Nepal and the Himalayas. They won't return until after the season concludes with the two-game championship showdown at the end of April.

So it was with mixed emotions they faced off against each other in a half-court effort necessitated by meagre attendance. Holt, playing alongside energy forward Bam Bam, prevailed 7-4 over his traveling companion who was paired with the Living Legend.

After the game, Beckenbauer tried to put a positive spin on their truncated season. Rather than looking upon the long grind of the regular season as a wasted effort with no final result, he regarded the campaign as early preparation for next season.

"It's something you build up for the whole season," said Beckenbauer of the championship series. "As it turns out we'll just be training for next year."

In fact, the duo tried to schedule their travels to accommodate the full road hockey season. But when dozens of climbers perished last spring in the very same part of the world where they're headed, they decided on a more cautious itinerary when the weather is more predictable.

Unfortunately that window falls smack dab during the Stanley Stick.
Still, Holt expects their dedication to the regular season will serve them well at their destination.

"It's a huge motivator," said Holt. "If it wasn't for hockey, I'd just be a fat slob sitting around drinking beer."

Beckenbauer said he expects the lightning reflexes and hand-eye coordination that serve roadsters well in the hockey court will come in handy on a Nepalese piste.

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March 09, 2015

Dates set for Stanley Stick

The Stanley Stick final series will be played April 19 and 26.

Let the griping and whinging begin.

While the advocates for a summer season will complain Sunday Morning Road Hockey's climactic finale is earlier than ever before, it actually coincides with the pattern that has been established over the past several seasons. That's made for some exciting games in almost ideal conditions, not too warm with a good chance for a dry court.

This year's early Easter weekend, when attendance is usually sparse, also means the roadsters will have one additional week to prepare for the championship showdown.

However some regular season stalwarts have already indicated they won't be available to play, no matter how the schedule is massaged. Both Holt and Beckenbauer will be out of the country as the regular season winds down, and Yak has been hobbled by a knee injury that could keep him out of action.

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March 01, 2015

Doo wins Hanna Barbera duel

Living Legend scored seven times, including the game winner.

Too bad the latter was for the other team.

A wrap-around by Nouvelle Guy deflected off the ageless veteran's toe and past a stunned Lak Attack to give their opponents a 15-12 win.

The game almost ended before it had a chance to really get started when Colonel flailed his left arm to knock off his tormentor checking him closely in the offensive end. The defender, making his Sunday Morning debut, marched off the court after the unexpected violence. Even the Colonel's own goalie rebelled, threatening his departure because of the confrontation.

But apologies were offered all around and cooler heads prevailed.

After the Legend sparked his side to a quick 6-2 lead, five of the goals off his stick, the game became a spirited Hanna Barbera humdinger as time and again Scooby and Doo found themselves warring at close quarters for the advantage. More often than not, the slight speedster emerged with the evil orange plastic ball, and helped his side score seven of the next eight goals.

"That game was all about momentum," said Doo. "Once we were in it we didn't want to let it slip away."

But they almost did.

Up 12-9 and seemingly rolling to the win, Bam Bam got busy in the defensive zone, forcing turnovers that turned into three straight goals that tied the game.

But that effort pretty much emptied the team's tank, said Scooby.

"We definitely lost some steam in the second half of the game," he said. "We were pretty gassed at the end."

Doo scored two quick ones before Nouvelle Guy carried the ball from the corner to the back of the net then bounced the game winner off Legend's toe.

"You just have to step on the gas at the end," said Doo. "We managed to get a few bounces and that came from hard work."

Scooby could only rue would could have been.

"I thought we could have won it," said the lanky veteran. "We didn't quite have the touch and they finished their chances."

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February 25, 2015

Chico's pain in the neck persists

An MRI on Chico was inconclusive, but the veteran goalie still can't offer a clearer picture of when he might return to action.

The stalwart shotstopper has missed most of the season with vertigo-like symptoms.

That's made for a frustrating year after Chico was shelled in last season's Stanley Stick finale. He also missed much of that regular season as he pursued educational opportunities.

In his absence the league recruited upstart netminders like Joker and Eight Ball, who've stepped into the crease admirably.

Chico admitted his injury woes have put his role as a starting goalie in jeopardy. In his only appearance this season, he played out.

"I've been reading about Eight Ball's emergence," said Chico.

While the clean bill from the MRI exam hasn't brought him or his medical team any closer to resolving his symptoms, Chico said it has eliminated "the really bad things."

Doctors will now work to determine if his dizzy spells and nausea may be related to an issue with his neck muscles.

At the peak of his playing career Chico proved remarkably durable as time and again he scraped himself off the concrete to endure another barrage of shots through sometimes porous defenders.

Chico's relative inaction over the better part of two seasons have left his conditioning wanting.

In fact, he said it's "at an all-time low. I'm hoping to get in the gym starting in a week."

While Chico's extended absence may have proved a fatal blow to the league two seasons ago. the development of Joker and Eight Ball as reliable rearguards, and the retrenchment of Twizzler as a frontline starter has, for the most part, mitigated any lingering goalie crisis.

Before the newcomers came along the roadsters were forced to develop a modified set of rules for a half-court game to keep the league going with only one consistent keeper. Since Joker and Eight Ball became established there have been only a handful of such games.

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February 08, 2015

Odd men out

The Living Legend and Scooby each scored six times and the Colonel added another three to lead their side to a 15-13 win in Sunday's game. But their offensive bonanza wouldn't have been possible without Eight Ball's yeoman effort in net.

The rookie rearguard with the unorthodox style that defies description and basic physics made some key acrobatic saves to bail his side from their defensive lapses. And give them the assurance they needed to spark their transition game and press deep into the offensive zone.

"He made some saves when we needed them," said Scooby of his team's stalwart shotstopper.

"Eight Ball bailed them out on a lot of big opportunities," said Holt.

Though the winners never trailed, age and fatigue caught up with them late in the game as they allowed their feisty opponents to crawl back within a goal after trailing by as many as five earlier.

"We had two good periods that we won," said Holt. "We didn't give up."

Instead they tightened their defensive effort by keeping Joker back and pressuring the Colonel every time he wound up for a big shot from the point.

"He's got a shot from anywhere on the court," said Holt of the veteran's seeing eye slapshots. "If you're not working in that space between him and the net, it's always a danger."

Still, Colonel's frustration created opportunities for his mates, as time and again Scooby and the Living Legend were able to create odd-man rushes from turnovers.

The onslaught wore down Twizzler, who returned to the net after missing the last two weeks.

"We were winning some of those battles that gave us those breaks," said Scooby. "We were aggressive on the forecheck."

Playing with the lead all game gave the winners a mental edge that paid off as players fatigued.

"It helps having the lead," said Scooby. "When you're up, you don't grab your stick as tightly."

"They played hard the whole game," said Holt. "They deserved the win."

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