November 28, 2004

Pig Farmer sows win

When the winning goal in Sunday's game deflected in off his knee, the irony wasn't lost on Pig Farming Forward.

"You use what you can, wobbly or not," says the scoring sowminder, whose career has been imperilled by a series of knee injuries.

Sunday, despite slick conditions caused by an overnight frost, the former goaltender roamed his wing fearlessly and charged hard to the net at every opportunity. He was rewarded with six goals to lead his team to a hard-fought 20-17 win.

It was a performance as surprising as it was dominant. Especially to his opponents, who fully expected their agricultural adversary to retreat to the sidelines as conditions on the cold concrete worsened.

"He was a surprise," says the Living Legend of the productive plowman. "We thought he'd pack it in after the first period, or have some sort of injury. But he played tough out there, he stayed on his feet, and it cost us."

"I figured he'd last a period and then his knee would give out," says Wendel, whose side was repeatedly burned as they allowed the supposedly hobbled horticulturist to streak behind their skidding defense. "But give him credit, he made a lot of good plays and he didn't let his knee slow him down."

In fact, some roadsters questioned the wisdom of Pig Farming Forward's decision to play at all. Since abandoning the goalcrease to avoid further traumatizing his jumbled joint, he's limited his occasional starts as a forward to sunny days when the courts are dry and traction is certain. And while Sunday dawned bright, low temperatures slicked the concrete with an icy sheen.

"It was difficult because the sun start to dry off court in places; you expect to slide and next thing you know, you almost fall on face," says Pig Farming Forward, who might have scored his seventh goal had he not lost his footing for a moment, and then control of the evil orange plastic ball, on a penalty shot opportunity on Lobsterboy, awarded after Kid threw his stick in a fit of defensive desperation.

"It was so icy, the game is being played in slow motion," says Wendel. "We looked like a bunch of 80 year-old men out there."

The frozen surface diminished the dominance of the game's speedsters, Lak Attack and Kid, opening the door for opportunists like the Legend and Bird, each of whom scored natural hattricks to swing the game's momentum to their teams. But it was Bird's side that was able to maintain the pace, as they battled back from a 12-10 defecit early in the third period.

"It important that Bird and Elvis come up huge," says Pig Farming Forward of his hard-charging mates. "They swung momentum totally towards our side."

"We thought we were building some momentum, we thought we'd solved the puzzle," says Wendel, after the Legend's trio of unlikely goals had given his team their first lead of the game. "It just came apart at the end."

Pig Farming Forward's strong performance took his opponents by surprise, in more ways than one. Unaccustomed to seeing the lapsed shotstopper roaming the court without heavy pads strapped to his legs, defenders were unsure how to guard him.
"We don't see him out there much as a forward, so you're never entirely sure what he's going to do," said Wendel of his freerunning foe. "It's like having a new guy out there and it takes a little while to adjust to him."

Billy Idol's second win in as many weeks was especially sweet, coming on the heels of some sharp stings in the road hockey press. Playing with grim determination, he was sharp from the opening faceoff, scuttling the gameplan of his overconfident opponents.
"We wanted to control the game right from the start," said the Living Legend. "We knew we had to hit Billy Idol fast because he's generally a slow starter."
"Billy played a stronger game than we expected," said Wendel. "He felt he had something to prove this week, and he found a way to make the stops."

Unabomber confirmed his injury, a torn calf ligament, will keep him out of the lineup until at least February. The hard-shooting pointman, voted the Most Feared Roadster, first hurt his leg last season, tweaked it in the pre-season, and then commited more serious damage two weeks ago, when he was barely able to hobble off the court.

Posted by jaysuburb at 03:45 PM | Comments (8)

November 21, 2004

Moral victory for scoreboard losers

Wendel and his mates lost Sunday's game, 20-10, but they didn't feel like losers.

Afterall, against an opposition lineup stacked with Sunday Morning Road Hockey's speediest playmakers and one of its most fearsome shooters, just staying competitive seemed like a victory. And for more than a period, they gave their cocky competition cause for concern, even taking an early lead.

"They had all the big guns and lots of guys with huge intensity," says the diminutive defender of the daunting challenge facing his team after the stick pull placed Lak Attack, Kid, Elvis and Nibs at the opposite end of the court. "The other team had a lot of firepower and we just had to go as hard as we could."

Fighting fire with fire, they rained shots upon an embattled Billy Idol, finding him as permeable as moth-eaten cheesecloth.

"We had to take a lot of shots to try to make good things happen," says Wendel. "We were making some good shots, getting some good bounces and we were getting some goals."

"You have to take advantage of your chances," says Wink.

"We just knew we had to work our asses off," says Beetle Boy, who returned to the lineup after missing last week's rainy-weather game so he could stay dry.

But as brightly as their work ethic burned early, it quickly flamed out under the intense pressure of their powerhouse opponents.

"We just ran out of gas," says Wink. "We tried to be too pretty and we weren't a pretty team. We were an ugly team, we had to play ugly; but we put on some makeup and we put on a pretty dress and we thought we were something pretty."

"They had the energy and they go right through the game," says Beetle Boy. "We didn't have the wheels they did, and they took advantage of that."

Indeed, looking around at his teammates, Elvis knew it was only a matter of time before his side wrested control of the game. Despite falling behind 5-3, they resisted the urge to panic.

"We had quite a bit of talent to spread out, so we were able to put the onus on the other team to adjust," says the fiesty forward. "We had one of two choices to make; one was to play a defensive game to help our goalie, or we could just try to score as many goals as possible. We chose the latter and team chemistry got us through it."

"We got down early and it was a good reality check for us," says Cowboy Bill, who returned to his usual position at the point after making his first career start in goal last week. "It was all about just starting to move our feet on defense, and we weren't doing that at the start of the game."

"We started to lose those individual battles,and the ebb and flow of road hockey went against us," says Wink.

Posted by jaysuburb at 04:52 PM | Comments (38)

November 14, 2004

Strolling to victory

Kid, Hoss and the Living Legend combined for five straight goals in the third period, allowing their depleted lineup to stroll to a 20-14 win. Literally.

With neither team enjoying the benefit of spare players to sub off for tired teammates, Sunday's soggy game was as much about conserving energy as counting goals on the scoreboard. The side that was best able to achieve the former would prevail on the latter.

"You don't have a chance to sub off and get your mind and your body back together, you've got to do it all on the run," says Wendel, whose side seemed to burn itself out after a five-goal run earlier in the game tied the score at ten. "It's tough when you get down because you've got that mountain to climb, and we were climbing mountains all day."

As players loped slowly back to the defensive zone, or hovered at center court to catch their breath and wait for the breakout pass, the pressure to control the game's tempo fell squarely to the goalies, Nibs and Cowboy Bill, each of them making their Sunday Morning debuts between the pipes.

"The players are getting tired and I know I've got to cover the ball and try to slow down the game a little bit," says Nibs, who got a lot of help from the goalposts and crossbar behind him, as at least a half dozen shots careened off the iron and fell harmlessly into his equipment.

"It's a rollercoaster on a no-sub day," says Cowboy Bill, who stepped between the pipes as his roommate, Gump, traveled out of town. "You kinda have to sit back a little bit to give your team a chance to regain some of that energy, and that gives the other team a chance to get back in it."

That's just what Kid and his mates did. After flagging five unanswered goals of their own that tied the game in the second period, they burst up the court with renewed vigor in the third to reclaim the lead they'd never again relinquish.

"I think what happened is one team wanted it more than the other side," says Lak Attack, whose own efforts to fire his team were frustrated time and again by unfortunate bounces. "They came out a little bit stronger than we did."

"You've got to show some grit, you've got to decide you really want the ball and you want it all the time," says Wendel. "You need every bounce you can get and we weren't getting them today."

Posted by jaysuburb at 03:11 PM | Comments (19)

November 07, 2004

Confidence booster

Six unanswered goals in the second period gave the underdogs their first lead in Sunday's game. But, more importantly, it gave them the confidence to romp to an unlikely 20-10 win.

Lined up against a potent offense led by the speedy snipers, Lak Attack and Kid, and powerful pointmen, Unabomber and Wink, the underdogs struggled early to find their own scoring touch as they emerged from the first period lucky to be down by only a goal, 5-4. But then the breaks started to go their way. Elvis' relentless forechecking created opportunities for his linemates, Wendel and Nibs, who didn't miss. And when the Living Legend was able to convert a couple of seeing-eye passes, the romp was on in earnest.

"Everyone just sorta got on that same winning vibe," says Elvis of his side's second period turnaround. "Everyone was playing well, everyone was feeling good out there, and you know things are gonna happen your way."

"I think you could see our confidence growing as a team," says Paul One. "You could see we were able to just hold the ball for that extra split second to look for somebody in the open rather than panicking and just firing it away."

Instead it was their powerful opponents who pushed the panic button. Unable to exploit their superior speed and playmaking ability in the slippery conditions, they peppered low-percentage shots from difficult angles at Lobsterboy, who was equal to the challenge.

"On a wet day, it's a lot harder to get your shot off sometimes," says Bird of his side's offensive frustrations. "We hit a lot of posts, we didn't get many breaks. We were demoralized."

"They just looked rattled," says Paul One of his fumbling foes. "You could see it in their eyes, they just didn't think they had it today."

"The other team seemed to get deflated too quickly," says Lobsterboy. "Once we got the lead, we held onto it. Our guys never let up."

With their confidence growing, and momentum on their side, the underdogs went for the jugular. Beetle Boy regained his scoring touch that had eluded him so far this season while Billy Idol discovered his slapshot. Only a late goal by Lak Attack, who knocked home a rebound past a sprawling Lobsterboy prevented the ultimate humiliation, a shutout.

"Looking at the stick draw, you probably wouldn't have predicted such a lopsided victory," says Elvis. "Hockey is a game of momentum, and we were able to get a few goals, so suddenly the mountain wasn't looking so big."

"You can't call the game based on the drop of the sticks," says Paul One. "When the goals start going in and the goalie is making the saves at the other end, that's what determines the outcome."

Posted by jaysuburb at 04:42 PM | Comments (7)