Murphy the dog, and his master, Guy Called Mike, make a surprise appearance at the road hockey courts, on another rainy Sunday.


Week 6
New breed battles bravely

Recent roadsters respond in rain

by Jay Suburb

With the road hockey courts awash in the second storm of the last three weeks, it's clear the game has borne a new breed of rainy roadsters. And they're not the weather-weary veterans.

Of the 11 roadsters who braved Sunday's deluge, only three--the Living Legend, notorious gameshow host gone bad, Wink and Guy Called Mike--had been regulars through the infamous storms of '98.

Instead, it's been a roster of resilient rookies and other recent additions who've ensured the game goes on.

"These guys are starting to understand the history of road hockey," says one of the game's fellow founding fathers, Wink, of his young teammates. "I think it shows the guys who really want it."

Guys like Billy Idol, whose third career start was also his soggiest. But, says the young playmaker, he knew by showing up in the worst weather, he could be an example to his fellow rookies.

"I've gotta show them that they have to try and get out in the rain, it's really no excuse."

And, rookie or veteran, the conditions are the same for everyone, says neophyte netminder, Ottoman.

"It kept raining harder and harder, but I was looking forward to it. You go out and get a little soggy, you've just got to deal with it."

The perseverance of the young roadsters has been an encouraging development in a season plagued by the inconsistency and indifference of some of the game's most stalwart starters. Lumberjack, Philderama and Southpark have yet to play a game, despite their preseason prognostications of renewed commitment. Lak Attack, Paul One, and Lobsterboy, amongst Sunday Morning's most ardent advocates in any weather, appear to have become little more than part-timers. Hollywood has made only one regular-season appearance.

"I think if you don't show up on a rainy day, you lose your right to (complain)," says Wink. "Guys like the Colonel, the Kid, Bird, you knew they were coming out. They're the solid citizens of road hockey."

"I think the temptation is always there to not play in the rain," says Giebelhaus, who's making his second comeback after an eight-season hiatus from the courts and then knee surgery. "But playing through rain or shine, or snow or ice, that's the fun of it."

Sunday's deluge presented particular challenges to all the roadsters.
For Ottoman, playing in the first foul-weather game of his newfound career, it meant getting used to throwing around heavy equipment that only got heavier as the game progressed.
"It's different," said the neophyte netminder. "You slide around, you can't plant a foot to move, you look a lot more foolish."
Billy Idol said he had adjust to slippery concrete. "You've just gotta slow down in the corners, try not to take too many falls."
But for the senior players, veterans of too many wet-weather games, the problems were a little more mundane.
"When it gets all wet, I can't see through my glasses," said Wink.
And, said Giebelhaus, the conditions forced players to pay closer attention to the game's fundamentals.
"It's a slippery game, you're losing your footing. But people tend to play a little more positional, so in some respects it can be a much better game."

In fact, the arrival of Giebelhaus at the courts took many of the roadsters by surprise, as they expected he would sit out to guard his fragile knee from further injury in the slippery conditions. The veteran roadster is still limping noticeably, nine months after the jittery joint was rebuilt by surgery.
"I knew it was gonna be wet," said Giebelhaus, who continues to wear a large purple brace to protect his knee. "There's no worries about the knee other than it's a little sore. I'm not quite running with a full stride yet."

Sunday's game started with only one goalie, Ottoman, but an emergency call-up by Bird of afternoon stalwart, New Goalie, restored a balance of backstops. It was the second career morning start for the super sub, who was also called in to a game last season under similar circumstances.
And though he played through a thick hangover, he made numerous tough stops on Guy Called Mike and Bulldog, to lead his team to a decisive 20-12 victory.
At the other end, Ottoman shouldered some of the blame for his side's listless effort.
"I think if I'd made a few more stops, it would have encouraged them a bit," said the rookie rearguard. "It was a bad game for me, but there's not much you can do."

Sunday's rainstorm was the second to hit the road hockey courts in three weeks, a marked contrast to last season, when the first rain game didn't happen until the ninth week. And long range forecasts for the coming winter predict more bad weather.
Some veterans said that doesn't bode well, recalling the 1998 season, when bad weather, poor attendance, and bad attitudes sparked a number of ugly incidents.

The ongoing absence of Hollywood has put the brakes on Wink's long-standing campaign to win the star sniper automatic entry into the Sunday Morning Road Hockey Hall of Fame. And the fellow founding father didn't have much better to say about some of the other truants.
"You just feel like they've lost their spot in road hockey history, their reputation has been tarnished."

The roadsters who did brave Sunday's rain included: the Colonel, Bulldog, Giebelhaus, Bird, Kid, Billy Idol, Ottoman, Wink, Living Legend, Guy Called Mike and the New Goalie.