February 07, 2016

Rookies run roughshod in 15-7 rout

The road hockey careers of Coach, Cleveland and Ohio totals less than 10 games. Combined.

Sunday they teamed up with the league’s most senior player in a 15-7 rout of their overwhelmed opponents.

The offensive chemistry of the new foundlings was apparent right from the opening face off. They passed the evil orange plastic ball with authority. They executed dizzying give-and-goes that left defenders spinning on their flat feet.

Only some remarkable saves by Lak Attack prevented the game from getting out of hand in its earliest moments.

“They were just way too skilled,” said the beleaguered backstop. “They were moving their feet more than us, they were playing as a unit.”

That unit got a big assist from the longtime hockey history between Cleveland and Ohio. But Sunday was the first time they’d both played on the same side at the road hockey courts.

“It’s almost like the chemistry was there between them even before they started playing the game,” said Colonel, who spent portions of the game just watching the dizzying playmaking of his opponents. “They were making bang bang passes, lots of nifty little moves.”

Supported capably by Coach and Living Legend, who chipped in a pair of goals of his own, the upstarts opened the lead to as many as seven goals before the determined underdogs started to claw their way back. But they couldn’t get any closer than 10-7 before surrendering five straight down the stretch.

“We got a couple of opportunistic goals but at the end of the day they were the better team,” said Colonel.

Which was good news for Joker, who was coming off a dismal performance in last Sunday’s soaker where he gave up 10 goals in a six-minute span. Or maybe it was six goals in a 10-minute span.

“The odd-man rushes and the passing were just unbelievable,” said the jocular netminder. “It makes it a little more comfortable for me back there.”

And very uncomfortable for defenders who just couldn’t keep pace.

“The only way to stop them is by taking their space away,” said Colonel.

The theory may have been sound, said Lak Attack, but the execution was lacking.

“We had a lack of defence today for sure.”

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January 24, 2016

Youngblood's hat trick sparks comeback win

Youngblood scored three times in his Sunday Morning debut to lead his team to a 12-10 comeback win. He’s only 11 years-old.

The rookie phenom showed hockey sense and fortitude beyond his years as he mixed it up in the corners with grizzled veterans and drove hard to the net to create scoring chances.

“Those young guys just keep pushing and pushing,” said Bam Bam of his fearless teammate. “They’ve got endless energy, they can chase, they can cycle. It doesn’t hurt if they’ve got a good pair of hands.”

Which Youngblood apparently has. HIs goals came on a long shot, a rebound and a bold charge through a seam.

“He’s got a great skill level and he knows the game really well,” said Colonel of his juvenile adversary. “You just can’t leave him alone.”

Time and again the youngster found himself in open court, making plays and creating opportunities. He also wasn’t afraid to mix it up with some of his more notorious opponents, including Colonel and Wink.

“You don’t expect that right away,” said Colonel, who’s team quickly realized they had to overcome their instinct to go easy on their young opponent. “He’s just another player out there and we always have to play tough on everybody.”

“It wasn’t just the goals, it was the hustle, the playmaking,” said Bam Bam, whose side trailed by as many as six goals half way through the game.

But then Beelzebub hurt his arm, depriving his side of their extra player to spell off tired teammates. And Joker found his glove hand.

The garrulous goaltender struggled early in Sunday’s game. His five hole looked more like a chasm. His glove hand failed him.

But his mates kept their faith.

“We know goalies give up bad goals,” said Bam Bam. “But we knew he’d come back. We just needed to give him some support offensively.”

“He was definitely hot in the second half,” said Colonel. “That gave their team a lift.”

Especially after Youngblood scored his first goal, and Bam Bam regained his legs in his first game of the new year.

Having the extra man for the balance of the game allowed the winners to better manage their effort said Bam Bam. That gave him time to get reignite the energy that had been sapped by his extended illness that kept him on the sidelines for the past month.

“I think we did a good job of keeping our shifts short,” said Bam Bam. “The guys played hard, then they came off. Overall I think we worked well today.”

Their opponents could only rue the game that got away from them.

“I think we took them a little too lightly, and that cost us,” said Colonel.

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January 17, 2016

Wink blasts team to victory

The Winkian blast is back.

Already goalies are cowering in fear.

The veteran founding father, who’s on the comeback trail after missing five seasons with health issues, scored three of his side’s first four goals to spark a 15-8 victory in Sunday’s soggy game.

All of them were rifle blasts that eluded Lak Attack even before the lanky netminder had a chance to react.

“I was putting the ball where I wanted to put it,” said Wink.

That was high past the outstretched glove of Lak Attack, just beyond the reach of his toes, and over his shoulder.

“He can shoot it high, he can shoot it low, he can place it where he wants,” said the beleaguered backup. “It’s a hard shot.”

In fact, at the height of his defensive dominance, Wink’s shot from the point was one of the most feared on the small road hockey court. Time and again he rained them past shellshocked shotstoppers with alarming regularity.

But since returning from his medical hiatus, the veteran defender has been challenged to recapture his timing and goal-scoring glory.

“I felt I’ve shot it well since I came back,” said Wink. “I just wasn’t hitting it this well.”

Finding his sizzling slapshot means defenders will have to adjust, said Lak Attack. “We really have to challenge him.”

Otherwise facing down those cannon drives will take a toll.

“You start to wonder where your positioning is, where your glove is,” said Lak Attack. “You start to speculate and you’re not very confident.”

Drawing defenders his way means more court for his teammates, said Wink.

“I think it gives us a whole other aspect that opens things up for the other two guys down low.”

Up 5-1 at the end of the first period, Wink and his mates never trailed.

But a hat trick by Big D seemed to light a fire under their opponents to make a game of it.

“The guys played really well,” said Lak Attack of their losing effort. “They just didn’t mesh well in the first. They got going in the second and third.”

By then, though, it was too late.

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January 10, 2016

Slick surface stifles scorers

The icy court pebbled with rock salt and gravel may have frustrated players in Sunday’s game, but it was a boon for Joker.

The veteran netminder limited both teams to a total of eight goals in a competitive half-court game that was as much about survival as scoring.

Several overnight frosts slicked the concrete, making for precarious footing.

Pebbles of stone and salt sent shots and passes skipping with abandon.

“We haven’t seen something like this in many years,” said Lak Attack of the challenging conditions. “It was like playing on gravel.”

But for Joker, the harried, haphazard play seemed to move in slow motion, giving him plenty of time to square his position and cock his glove hand.

“It slows down the game,” said the gregarious goaltender. “You can see everything and you can get a little better positioning. I think I did that well today.”

Time and again he frustrated shooters who were happy just to get a shot on net as they tried to control the wildly careening ball.

“People were cautious and some good opportunities to make passes just didn’t materialize because of the courts,” said Lak Attack, whose side jumped to a 4-1 lead then hung on for a 5-3 win.

The conditions were equally challenging for defenders, who struggled to anticipate passes or found themselves sliding wildly on icy patches.

“It was very frustrating for both sides,” said Lak Attack.

And a confidence booster for Joker, whose stingy ways reversed a couple of shaky starts in recent weeks.

“Today I felt great,” said Joker. “My confidence for the rest of the season will be sky high.”

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January 03, 2016

Shrimp Ring shame

One of Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s enduring traditions may now be a portent of the game’s decline.

Sunday’s 20th annual Shrimp Ring Bowl to kick off the new year was a shrimp ring without a bowl. Only four players reported to the frost-slicked courts and the game was iced.

And that doesn’t bode well for the season’s second half, said Lak Attack, a veteran of many of the celebratory showdowns.

“If you have a good Shrimp Ring, you know the guys are committed,” he said. “But if you don’t, you know the game is waning away. It’s disappointing.”

While a cold fog that iced the roads may have kept some of the roadsters home Sunday, there was a time when even a snowstorm couldn’t prevent the Ring’s renewal. Like in 2005, when the roadsters chopped and shovelled three days of accumulated snow and ice to ensure the game went on.

“That’s what’s been lost,” said Lak Attack, as he, Nouvelle Guy, Joker and Living Legend dipped their bargain shrimp into tangy cocktail sauce. “Guys have had a good holiday; you’d think they would be champing at the bit to come out and play.”

Still, there’s reason for hope.

The league’s core veterans remain passionate, their enthusiasm buoyed by the return of fellow founding father Wink after he missed five seasons to overcome medical challenges. And there’s a promise of new recruits, including another goalie.

“It’s time to find some new faces that are passionate and committed to the game,” said Lak Attack. “We have to build around that. It’s only going to get better as long as we’re all committed to the same goal.”

Posted by jaysuburb at 08:17 PM | Comments (6)

December 21, 2015

Joker overcomes mid-game swoon

Joker bent, but he didn’t break.

The sophomore shotstopper weathered a difficult second period to make some big saves late in Sunday’s game and lead his team to a 15-10 win.

Early on, it had seemed the rout was on. Sparked by the Living Legend’s two quick goals to open the scoring in his first game in three weeks, Joker’s mates built up a 5-1 lead at the game’s first break.

There was talk of a trade to better balance the sides.

But rookie winger Beelzebub, playing in only his second game, found his legs, power forward Bam Bam found his energy and point man Wink rediscovered his slapshot to wrest momentum from the leaders through much of the middle frame.

Joker wasn’t equal to the task, whiffing some easy shots, conceding juicy rebounds.

“I did struggle,” said the embattled crease minder. “Bam Bam and Beelzebub started to connect. They were getting a lot of one-timers, a lot of plays from behind the net and I just wasn’t fast enough.”

Bam Bam said his side regained their confidence after a pep talk from their own veteran goalie, Lak Attack.

“We started to look for the open guy right away,” said the veteran speedster. “We found some chemistry.”

By the time the ripples in the puddles formed by a mid-game squall settled, the underdogs had narrowed the margin to a slim two goals.

“We just had to keep working,” said Doo of his side’s reality check.

Which is exactly what they did.

Living Legend battled hard in the corners. Nouvelle Guy drove to the net, Doo dazzled defenders. And, most importantly, Joker came up with some big saves as his mates pressured in the offensive zone.

“If he doesn’t make a couple of big saves, our confidence could have been sapped away,” said Doo. “Joker is a good goalie and that’s what good goalies do; they shake off the bad goals and let us get back into our game and finish them off.”

Still, the Legend’s two seeing-eye goals that ended the game came as a relief to his side’s goalie.

“I was sweating,” said Joker.

“We’ve been here long enough that you see a couple of plays go against you, and that can snowball into six quick ones and you’ve lost the game,” said Doo.

Sunday's game was the last of 2015, as the roadsters take a one-week hiatus to celebrate the holidays with Colonel at his family bunker. Play resumes Jan. 3 with the annual Shrimp Ring Bowl, the highlight of Sunday Morning Road Hockey's social calendar.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

Posted by jaysuburb at 08:56 PM | Comments (12)