April 26, 2004

Roadsters overcome Legend-ary confusion

On one of the nicest days of the year, one of the game's most senior players, The Living Legend, was noticeably absent, needing time off to tend to familial duties. The abscence of the long time roadster caused a bit of confusion amongst the assembled cast, as some people wondered aloud whether or not it was indeed Sunday. Further speculation and rumours ran rampant, had Legend run off to form a new league? was he suffering from an undisclosed upper or lower body injury? had the roguesters kidnapped him? until Kid and Bird let on that the Legend had other commitments to attend to.

The game was delayed slightly as the two goalkeepers, Gump and Ottoman, took their sweet time donning all the heavy equipment. Gump taking extra time as he was still feeling the effects of a long night of drinking, and Ottoman taking extra time because he's just slow.

There was even further delay to the start of the game, as the stick pull produced two teams which one side declared was too stacked, and negotiations commenced to balance out the two teams as Lak Attack was exchanged for Cowboy Bill. One has to wonder whether or not these two delays, would have taken place had the commisioner been able to supervise the events. Would the commish even have allowed such a trade to happen? Does the trade tarnish the tradition of the stick pull?

With the trade , the lineups now looked like this:
Gump (G), Wink, Elvis, Nibs, Rudy, Wendel, Cowboy Bill
Ottoman (G), Bird, Kid, Beetle Boy, Colonel, Billy Idol, Lak Attack

Both sides featured well rounded lineups, but chemistry and effort would play a rather large factor in the outcome of this game. Time and time again a pass from Rudy, Wendel, or Cowboy would not find it's way through, while Bird, Kid and Beetle looked like they knew exactly where each other would be, or Elvis would be found yelling for Nibs to keep after the ball, to dig for the rebound that Ottoman is known to give up, and on the other end Billy Idol would dig hard in the corners and come out with the ball for a quick pass out to Colonel or Lak Attack.

One bright spot for Gump's side was the hard work and persistance shown by Rudy, which was capped off by one of the prettiest goals of the year, a snapshot that was picked out of the air off a bounce, that went wide past a challenging Ottoman and found the top corner of the net.

There was also a brief scare midway through the game, as a wild Colonel slapshot caught the unprotected throat of Gump, who went down quicker than a Surrey girl. The shot which ended up leaving a very bright red mark on Gump's neck did little to throw him off his game however, as a few moments later he was seen flashing the leather with a big windmill style glove save, the likes of which have not been seen since Grant Fuhr retired. Unfortunately for Gump, that highlight reel save wasn't enough to pump up his teammates, as they ended up succumbing to a final score of 20 to 14.

*****

The game marked the last for the month of April. We are now one month away from the start of the Stanley Stick Championship Series.

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Falling in the forest

I guess it's the age-old conundrum; if the road hockey media wasn't there to report on the road hockey game, did the game really happen?

Posted by jaysuburb at 07:15 AM | Comments (1)

April 18, 2004

Back from the brink

Lobsterboy knew there was no time to lose. His team had just lost two of their top players to injury and now they were in danger of losing the game. So, with a five-goal cushion to play with, they threw defensive caution to the wind and forechecked hard in the offensive zone. The strategy almost backfired, as their lead dwindled to two, until Bird pounced on a bouncing ball to the side of a sprawling Gump and knocked it under his outstretched arm, pulling his team back from the brink, and sealing a dramatic 20-17 win.

"We knew we had to score the goals fast, because we were running out of steam," says the shelled shotstopper, who seemed to be suffering more than his mates, as he made a rare start as an offensive player.

"We had a feeling we could get something if we went hard on the forecheck and threw the ball at the net," says Bird, who helped spark his team to an early 5-1 lead when he teamed up with his linemates Kid and the Living Legend to score four straight goals on their first shift.

But the game that had seemed so in hand as his side nursed a 16-11 lead took a sudden dramatic turn when Pig Farming Goalie aggravated the injured knee that had kept him out of the lineup until last week. Stretching across the crease to cover against a wrap-around, he jammed his leg into the far post and then dropped to the concrete, writhing in pain.

As Lak Attack strapped on the goalie pads in relief, his side was dealt a further blow when Kid announced he'd wrenched his back on an earlier shift and couldn't continue.

"We were up five goals, but what can you do, injuries happen sometimes," says Pig Farming Goalie, who's likely lost for the rest of the season. "You just have to deal with it. When you face war of attrition, you've just got to buckle down."

"PFG was out, the Kid was out, we had to dig really really deep," says Lobsterboy.

Coming in cold, Lak Attack stopped the first shot he faced, then another and another. That seemed to give his mates the confidence they needed to charge deep into the offensive zone. Hoss battled the end boards, the Living Legend and Bird knocked down clearing passes and Lobsterboy clogged up the middle.

Sensing their opponent's defensive desperation, the underdogs tried to take advantage by sneaking players behind the collapsing coverage.

"Our guys started to get a lot more hungry," says Rudy, who used his speed to lead the charge up court. "I think one of us was always cheating up a bit to get the quick turnaround and try to get a break."

But more often than not, Lak Attack was equal to the task.

"I think we had a lot of confidence in Lak that he could stop anything," says Bird. "We gave up a lot of two-on-ones at the other end, so we had to count on him to stop them."

"He gave us confidence that his cat-like reflexes could keep us in the game," says Lobsterboy.

At least long enough to give Bird the opportunity to create havoc at the other end.

"It was either going to be him or Lobsterboy scoring on some sort of fluke," says Rudy, of Bird's gamewinner. "All they had to do was whack at it."

"We just threw everything at the net that we could, and just hope something would go in," says Bird.

"It was a victory of heart," says Lobsterboy.

Posted by jaysuburb at 04:34 PM | Comments (32)

April 11, 2004

Pig Farmer makes his case

Pig Farming Goalie was all set to start a letter-writing campaign to make his case to be allowed to play in this Spring's Stanley Cup Championship series. Instead, the agrarian goaltender, who made his first start between the pipes Sunday after missing most of the season with a knee injury and work commitments, let his pads do the talking.

The barn-slopping shotstopper stood tall as his teammates floundered early, buying them time to twice battle their way back from six goal defecits, eventually tying the game at 18. And while they ultimately succumbed, 20-18, Pig Farmer's message was clear; he's back and opposing forwards "better be ready."

"He played a pretty amazing game," says Elvis, one of those forwards who was frustrated time and again as Pig Farming Goalie stabbed his pads into the firing range and sprawled acrobatically across the crease to smother rebounds.

"It was like Vimy Ridge, just bullets," says Pig Farming Goalie of the early barrage. "I think I help out team by being able to frustrate them. Lots of their shots were down low and they weren't able to get ahold of rebounds and momentum just shifted."

"We had to tighten up a little bit and stop coughing it up to them," says New Guy of his side's early difficulties that dug them into an 8-2 hole, despite Pig Farmer's goaltending heroics.

Most of the damage was inflicted by the line of Lak Attack, Nibs and the Colonel, who launched rapier blasts from the point and then cycled speedily to pounce on rebounds or sloppy clearing attempts.

"They were definitely the go-ahead line," says Elvis of the fearsome trio. "We just wanted to shoot lots, try to get as many balls on net as we could from everywhere."

"It's tough to contain a line like that," says New Guy. "They move it around, all three of them can cycle in from the point and they've all got huge shots. Your goalie has to come up big, that's for sure."

That's just what Pig Farming Goalie did, keeping the score within reach until his mates could find their own rhythm. And as the evil orange plastic ball softened up in the early Spring heat, the bounces started going their way. They battled their way back to within a goal, slipped again and then fought to get even for the first time in the game, at 18.

"The bounces stopped going their way," says New Guy. "The ball just started going in for us."

"We just had patience on ball," says Pig Farming Goalie. "With hard work we got a couple of flukey goals. We can't quit."

Especially Billy Idol, who seemed to get fired up after getting decked by Lak Attack with an accidental butt end to his cheek. After missing the rest of his shift to gather his senses and dab the blood from beneath his eye, he returned to the court with renewed energy and determination, driving hard to the net, forechecking relentlessly, rattling his opponents and creating opportunities for his linemates.

"Billy Idol had a pretty big second half, and that just seemed to fire up the rest of their team," says Elvis. "Some of the players found a little something extra somewhere."

But it just wasn't quite enough. Moments after Kid lifted a shot just wide of the post on a breakaway that would have given his team their first lead of the game and put them within a goal of writing the final chapter to their storybook comeback, Bird gathered a loose ball along the boards, spun to avoid a charging defender and ripped a seeing-eye shot that handcuffed Pig Farming Goalie.

"It happened so quick, it was hard to think about it," says the comeback creaseminder. "We were so close at end, I feel badly for my team."

And while the final score might not have gone his team's way, Pig Farming Goalie says he's earned a commissioner's exemption to waive the six-game requirement to make him elligible to play in the season's finale series.

"Today I just wanted to play positionally. I actually feel pretty good. I think it was good game for me to come back."

Posted by jaysuburb at 05:48 PM | Comments (14)

April 04, 2004

Bird takes flight

After being grounded last week with a sore back, Bird soared early and often in Sunday's game, teaming up with his linemates Kid and Beetle Boy for three quick goals on their first shift to launch his team to a decisive 20-12 win.

As is usually the case when Bird's got his scoring touch, he was able to inflict most of his damage even before his opponents were aware of his presence on the court. With Kid swooping in hard from the wing, dragging a pair of defenders behind him, Bird quietly planted himself at the edge of the crease, waiting for a crossing pass to tip home or a loose rebound to lift over a sprawling Lobsterboy.

"Bird is like a stealth machine," says the shelled shotstopper, who's now lost both of his starts since returning to the road hockey court from a two month hiatus. "Nobody covers him so he can sneak in there."

Missing last week's game may also have worked to his advantage, says Bird, as defenders seemed to forget the offensive rapport he's forged with his linemates, particularly the Kid.

"We know how each other plays, we know where the other person is going to be and it really works for us."

Twice the Kid was able to send a shot screaming across the crease where Bird was able to just lay down his stick for a nifty deflection, beating Lobsterboy once and narrowly missing on the follow-up.

"Very early on, Bird and Kid were really hooking up for a lot goals, and that really caught the other team out," says New Guy. "It was Bird's day today."

"They seemed to have that deflection play working for them, and we had nothing going," says Paul One, who returned to action after missing last week's game.

"They're a dynamite combination," says Lobsterboy of the diminutive duo. "They know exactly where the other guy is all the time. Bird's luck is amazing, you just shoot the ball and it goes off him into the net."

More importantly, the damage Bird and his linemates inflicted on their first shift seemed to reverberate beyond the three goals they posted to the scoreboard as dizzied defenders careened crazily around the court, confused and disspirited.

"I think when they see me score on any play, they're fairly embarrassed by it," says Bird. "It's really very depressing for everyone on the other team."

"Those goals usually make the difference," says Beetle Boy. "They can be confidence killers for the defense."

"I think they really got them off their game," says New Guy of his triggerhappy teammates.

"It's devastating," says Unabomber, who played despite nursing a shaky shoulder that had already kept him out of the lineup for more than two months. "When they start piling up goals like that, you lose your intensity."

The delayed addition of Rudy seemed to briefly shake the underdogs from their torpor as he sped hard to the net and forechecked relentlessly. But with the game already in the third period and the score seemingly out of reach, it was too little too late.

"We had enough of a lead that we weren't too concerned," says Bird. "Even when they started to play well and go to the net harder, we still knew we had the talent to finish them off."

"When Rudy showed up, it gave them a little life," says New Guy. "But we had enough of a lead by then so we were able to maintain it. You don't want to panic."

"We were pressing, getting two, three or four chances," says Paul One of his side's star-crossed surge. "But then it ends up going against us at the other end. They definitely had some timely goals."

"We took too long to realize we were in a death spiral," says Lobsterboy.


Road Kill Notes: After a season of peace and Sunday Morning solitude, the Roguesters returned to the neighboring court on Sunday, with their little mini-nets and a cacophony of unnecessary noise.

The Stanley Stick Championship Series has been tentatively scheduled for May 30 and June 6. To be elligible, a player must have started in six regular season games, at least three of them in the season's first half.

Posted by jaysuburb at 05:03 PM | Comments (13)