Bulldog shakes off his reputation as a fair-weather roadster, by strapping on the goalie pads on the wettest day at the road hockey courts in years.


Special collector's edition
Soggy saviors

Rookie goalies define game's spirit

by Jay Suburb

Bulldog's tired of being called a fair-weather roadster.

Sunday, he answered his critics by reporting to the courts despite a relentless rainstorm. Then, he added an exclamation point by making his first career start in goal.

For the veteran roadster, the long drive to the road hockey courts from his urban home was a test of the faith, in his fellow roadsters and his own fortitude.

"Your first feeling is concern, who's gonna show up on a day like today," says Bulldog, making only his second start since a yearlong hiatus to pursue educational opportunities in a faraway city. "I know I've been labeled a fair-weather roadster in the past, but clearly we've got a new bunch of fair-weather players this season. Those new guys, like Beetle Boy, his third week in and I would have expected him to show."

And when none of the six roadsters to brave the elements were regular starting goaltenders, Bulldog was the first to step forward to strap on the protective pads.

"I was mentally preparing myself," says Bulldog. "I had had some sort of premonition that maybe it might be time for me to strap on the pads because of all the goalie crises we've had this season. It's all in the name of the game."

The gauntlet thrown, his friend, and frequent foe, the Colonel, was quick to answer the challenge.

"What a great opportunity to go against a longtime rival, such as Bulldog, so I was excited to get the chance to go in net," says the Colonel. "I hadn't planned at all to go in net, but I figured somebody had to go in."

And, on the worst of days, it was the best of times.

"I have never been so proud of two guys I don't know in my life," says notorious gameshow host gone bad, Wink. "We haven't had many days like this where we've had two guys who could have gone home, who could have said screw it, but, for the good of the game, they stepped up."

"I think the spirit out here was fantastic," says Bird. "I think everyone out here had a great time today, because you had guys who wanted to play."

That's what it's all about, says Bulldog, doing whatever it takes to ensure the game goes on. "Drop of a hat, I'm gonna strap on the pads any day the league needs me."

While neither of Sunday's starting goalies had any previous experience between the pipes, both said the trying conditions and the relaxed attitude of their fellow players made their induction to the goaltenders' fraternity easier.
"For a rookie goaltender such as myself, I found it easier to position myself because the cement is slippery and you can move around a bit," said Bulldog.
"As a rookie goaltender coming in, you want your defense to step it up a little bit and help you out, but that didn't really happen," said the Colonel. "I wouldn't address the defense as capable, but that's okay, it was all in the fun of the game today."
Although short on style and shotstopping skills, the competitive rivalry between the two goalies was apparent right from the opening face-off. With only two teammates in front of them, both took an active role in directing their teams' offense, sneaking out of the crease to play the point, headmanning the evil orange plastic ball to streaking wingers, and firing shots to the opposite end. By the end of the day, the Colonel had scored one goal of his own, while Bulldog tallied three.
"With only as many players as we had, it was clear we all had to play our roles a little differently," said Bulldog.

Defensively, it may have been the Colonel who had the last word, after a spectacular, seemingly impossible, stick save early, when, flailing on the ground out of position, he reached his big goal stick across the crease to rob the Kid of a wide open net. Later, he stopped Bird on a penalty shot.
"Had it been anybody else, (saving a penalty shot) would have been real big," said the Colonel, "but stoning the Bird is not really that big a deal."

Sunday's game started, and finished, in a torrential downpour, with no respite in between. It was, in some roadsters' estimation, the wettest game in Sunday Morning history. And the soggy conditions proved a particular challenge, even to the most weather-hardened players.
"It was awful," said notorious gameshow host gone bad, Wink, who's seen plenty of crazy weather through his ten-year career. "It's wet, you're slipping and sliding, you can't shoot, you can't stickhandle. I think just the fact that we played is a victory."
"It's slippery, it's wet, you're tired," said the Bird. "There's some adjustment, but when you're playing only one-quarter speed, it's not too hard."

With only six players, including goalies, Sunday's game was divided into three mini-matches, with teams being cycled through so everyone got a chance to play with new teammates. Only the Kid managed to maintain an unblemished record, leading all three of his teams to victory.

Besides the absent goalies, Lobsterboy, Turk and Ottoman, other regulars who missed Sunday's soggy game included Guy Called Mike, Lak Attack, Paul One, Hollywood, Southpark, Whirling Dervish, Philderama, Lumberjack, Gump and the Hired Gun. The league's recent crop of newfound rookies, New Guy, Beetle Boy and Billy Idol, seemed unaware that the game goes on regardless of the weather.
"There's a whole bunch of guys who just pretend they give a damn," said Wink of his truant teammates. "They're the poseurs, the pretenders."
"You really have to question their commitment to the game," said Bulldog. "I mean, these guys like Hollywood, their reputation precedes them, but there's nothing to back it anymore. These guys gotta start showing up every week and showing us what they have."