The Stick Pull (Living Legend)
Scratches: Slick (legal problems), Lobsterboy (healthy scratch), Colonel (unsanctioned injury), Giebelhaus (exploitative employer), Unabomber (ankle injury)
If Rudy's four goals on his opening shift set the tone, his gamewinner
came just in the nick of time, said his linemate, notorious gameshow host
gone bad, Wink. With a veteran lineup, that also included an aging Paul
One, fatigue was setting in late in the game as they tried to contain
the seemingly tireless opposition, led by Lak Attack, the Kid and Nibs,
who had battled back to tie the game at 15.
"They had one very good group of guys," said Wink. "If it went too long, I think we would have been into overtime, or worse."
"I think it just came down to who wanted it more, who was going to dig a little deeper and get it," said Rudy.
"You know it's gonna be tight in the end,and you've gotta have something in the gas tank," said Paul One, who combined with Elvis and Billy Idol for a pair of late goals that set the table for Rudy's rebounding heroics. "We were still hustling at the end... and that turned the tide."
"We knew we had to get our chances before their big line came out," said Elvis.
Rudy's opening outburst was an all-too-familiar scenario for Ottoman
and his teammates, as the sophomore shotstopper has struggled early in
all of his starts this season. But this time, the beleaguered backstop
didn't let it get him down, or his teammates too far behind, as they battled
back to escape the first period down by only a pair of goals, 5-3.
"You can't get down too far," said Ottoman. "We definitely got it going, we kept it close all game. As it was, it was an uphill battle all the way."
Indeed, his side wasn't able to tie the game until early in the final period, and they never held a lead.
"Both teams were battling hard," said Ottoman. "Neither team ever really pulled away."
"The teams were very very close," said Rudy. "Every game every week, it seems like it's a pretty even battle."
And with so little to choose between them, the difference may have been attention to defense, said Paul One.
"I think the backcheck was the key," said the veteran forward. "It always comes down to the simple things like the backcheck. You come back to help out the goalie and that's how you win games."
"Guys have to know where their player is," said the benefactor of that backchecking, Pig Farming Goalie, who won his first game since returning to the crease. "Toward end of game, I was seeing shots a lot better."
"You just play smart," said Wink of his side's recipe for success. "You try to move the ball along the boards, you try to stay with your guy."
Sunday's winners may also have had an edge by being able to play with
two set lines, while their overmanned opponents had to juggle combinations
to give their seven players equal playing time.
"We just couldn't keep our guys together," said Ottoman. "Everyone was always playing with new guys. You just don't get that familiarity going."
But that kind of juggling also presented defensive challenges, said Paul One, as his side was forced to constantly adjust its checking coverage to various offensive combinations being unleashed every shift.
"You've really got to be aware of the line you're playing against. You've gotta keep your head and adjust your game accordingly."
Offensively, though, there's little doubt familiarity breeds goals.
"When guys keep playing together, it definitely adds to their confidence," said Ottoman.
"Once you get into game, players start to be able to know what each can do, they click," said Pig Farming Goalie.
"I thought our line combos worked really well today," said Paul One. "I think everyone was clicking."
"I think we probably had more of a balanced team than they did," said Wink. "I think both of our lines worked well."