Bird, who's known for his knack for pouncing on stray rebounds, buzzes the net early. He scored on his first two shots of the game, distracting defenders from his prolific teammates all morning.


Week 26
Bird chips in

Garbage goal-scorer distracts defense

by Jay Suburb

Sunday's winners needed to score 25 goals. But the game may have been decided by the first two.

When Bird converted the first two cross-crease passes to reach his stick, starting his side on its way to a 25-14 rout, he served early notice that he'd be an offensive force to be reckoned with. But to reckon with him, defenders often ignored his linemates.

"I got some very nice passes, and I managed to bury them," says Bird, who had a hat trick before the end of the first period, and added another by the end of the game. "If I can put a few in early, then they start checking me instead of other people."

And when those other people are Kid and Lak Attack, the goals pile up. Building on their quick start, they never trailed, never let their cushion diminish to less than three goals.

"I think we were just the better team today," says notorious gameshow host gone bad, Wink. "We had guys that were willing to play their role. We had the Kid and Lak Attack and we had a guy like Bird going to the net, putting his stick down and grinding it out."

"We had a pretty good rotation out there," says Paul One. "We had fresh legs, we were pretty quick and that worked for us today."

It also gave their opponents fits as they struggled to figure out who to cover in the defensive zone.

"They were sneaking around pretty good," says Rudy. "If you're watching Kid, Bird is sneaking around on the back post. Our defense gave them too much room."

"The fact Bird goes out there and gets some goals really forces them to lay off Lak Attack and lay off Kid," says Wink.

"It sorta told us that we had more to worry about today than just Kid and Lak Attack," says the Hired Gun of Bird's lightning start. "People know what these guys are capable of. We knew we had to cover everybody tight today, not give them any room at all."

But too often, the snipers found themselves with nothing but room. Inevitably, their shots found nothing but net.

"We just didn't keep going at them," says Rudy. "We let the other team start to get away and it makes it really tough to try to regain what we've lost."

"I think we just had the confidence," says Bird. "All we had to do was play our game and we'd be able to win it easy."

For the second consecutive week space on the bench was at a premium as the warm Spring weather lured 18 roadsters to the concrete courts. And it was the team that best used their bench depth that prevailed.
"When you get this many guys, there's no excuse not to go 100 percent on your shift," said Paul One. "I think we just hustled. We were always out there, running."
But as one side quickly cycled lines
, the other searched for heroes.
"Everybody was trying to be a scorer," said Wink. "Guys were taking these long shifts. We'd change twice, and they'd still have the same line on."
"Some of those long shifts turned into four or five goals for their side," said Rudy. "Those definitely hurt."
"You've gotta recognize that you have to have quick shifts," said the Hired Gun. "Too many guys were just being selfish, looking to pad their stats instead of taking care of business in their own end."

The Gun's own unselfishness caused the roadsters a few frightening moments when he dove in front of a rising shot by the Kid, stopping it with his Adam's apple. The veteran defender, renowned for his fearless blocking, collapsed to the courts, hacking and gasping for breath.
But after walking to the sidelines under his own steam, and holding an ice pack to his throttled throat, he was ready for his next shift.
"I gotta set an example for some of those wousses out there," said the Gun. "I don't bring a lot of offense to the game, so what I've gotta do is play tough defensively."
The incident was a sobering reminder to the rest of the roadsters, though, that on the small concrete court, injury is never too far away.
"I think you're always aware of it, but you've gotta maintain that mentality that it won't happen to you," said Bird, who suffered a broken tooth from an errant stick earlier this season.
"Most of the guys are hugely conscious of it," said Wink, who's inflicted pain on a number of roadsters through his long career. "As much fun as it is to mix it up, when the players with the big shots are winding up, I'm sidestepping it out of there."
"Until something like that happens, you forget about it," said Paul One. "You're just out there running around and you forget that that ball is coming pretty fast and it can hurt like hell."

In fact, the biggest effect of the Gun's injury may have been on his teammates, who seemed to be in shock after their fallen defender left the court. The letdown may have been enough to end any hope they had of forging a comeback, said Rudy.
"It definitely slowed us down. We may have been a little bit concerned about what was going on and it just compounded the fact that we were down by five goals again."
"It changed the tone for a couple of shifts afterwards," said Paul One. "Everyone was sorta looking at each other, everyone sorta eased off a bit."
"I think everyone kinda held up for a moment, and that's when we managed to bury a few," said Bird. "We just knew this a good time to bury them."
But, said Wink, their opponents' letdown started long before their mate was felled.
"I think there was a bit of a lull from them the whole game."