November 15, 2009

SPECIAL REPORT: Courts take toll on sticks

The rough sandpaper surface of the road hockey courts isn't just costing roadsters like Scrappy goals, it's costing them money. The young speedster is already on his third stick, just six weeks into the season.
And while he smashed one of them when he was the goat on a bad goal, the blades on his other sticks have been wearing down quicker than they used to.
"I don't think they last as long," says Scrappy.
While most of the roadsters are adjusting to the new playing surface, their sticks are more like toothpicks. That's taking a toll on some players' confidence.
"For finesse players, the blade is pretty much everything," says Doo, eyeing the narrow sliver of his stick's blade. "You need to be able to control your passes, receive passes and make those finesse plays, and you just can't do that with a stick quite like this."
"I'm having a lot of trouble with it," says Velma. "It's pretty tough especially for me because I make my money by going to the front of the net and keeping my stick on the ground."
But with less stick to put on the ground, passes hop harmlessly over depleted blades, shots don't have quite the snap, or sail wildly wide and over the net.
"You have to get your shot right off the toe of your stick," says Doo. "You can't go heel to toe anymore."
"I'm finding I have to shoot off the toe of my blade a little more rather than the heel," says Velma. "It's tough on everyone."
It's also taking it's toll on some players' confidence. Stickhandling is more tentative, feathered passes are easily intercepted.
"When you know your stick is dying on you, you lose confidence quite a bit," says Scrappy. "You worry you can't get the shot off or pass it off. It effects you mentally."

Seven roadsters braved Sunday's cold rain. They played a modified game of three-on-three half-court that pitted a team of wily veterans against the upstart Scooby gang. The veterans used their experience and guile to measure their effort in trying conditions to prevail, 15-8.

Posted by jaysuburb at November 15, 2009 04:02 PM

Sorry I didn't make it out. One more week of ultimate, and I'll be there.

Posted by: Gump at November 18, 2009 02:04 PM

Too bad you couldn't make it out Colonel. Today's game of three-on-three half-court was actually very competitive; we played for almost two hours!

Posted by: Living Legend at November 15, 2009 05:51 PM

Oh, and I was on child duty this week as my wife was away at a wedding. But the Sunday morning football games were pretty warm and dry at my house ... even with the exuberant kids.

Posted by: The Colonel at November 15, 2009 05:12 PM

It costs less to rent a gym than to replace your stick every few weeks - just a thought that I keep having. Especially, as winter nears closer and the conditions worsen to the point we can't even field two goaltenders for a game.

Posted by: The Colonel at November 15, 2009 05:11 PM