January 30, 2005

Sneaky Kid leads offense

Holding Lak Attack to one goal should have been enough for Cowboy Bill and his mates to take charge of Sunday's game. But they forgot about his linemate, Kid.

The diminutive centerman was nearly unstoppable in close, as time and again he was able to sneak behind distracted defenders to lift seeing-eye shots over a defenceless Ottoman and lead his team to a 20-9 win.

"He definitely had it today," says Cowboy Bill of his sure-footed foe. "He's the guy, especially in the wet weather he takes advantage. He really knows how to play in the wet weather, he's able to keep his footing well, he's able to go around everyone else and leaves the rest of us kinda spinning on our feet."

"He had Ottoman's number today," says Wendel, who watched from the wing as his linemate weaved his magic . "It was pretty impressive to see."

Indeed, as bewildered defenders converged on the boards to take away the outlet pass, and swarmed the ever-dangerous Lak Attack, they left Kid with ample time to deke for the open corner. And he rarely missed.

"He's bad enough when you've got somebody on him, but when you leave him alone, he's deadly," says Paul One.

"He's got too much time out there, and when he gets time like that, he's going to put it in," says the embattled Ottoman.

"He's so quick you can't give him too much time," says Lak Attack. "He had a little more time than usual today, so he was able to bury them eevn easier."

Of course, Lak Attack might have had something to do with that. As he carried the ball over the center line, from one side of the court to the other, he drew defenders towards him like iron filings to a magnet, opening a seam for his dimunitive linemate to exploit.

"Those are two guys who can handle the ball, and they're quick," says Cowboy Bill. "They're manouverable and our defensive corps just wasn't the most fleet-footed."

"We were on our heels," says Paul One. "We just left them with two-on-ones and three-on-ones and they converted all their chances."

"When you've got both of them out there at the same time, it gets really interesting," says Wendel. "They open up so much space and the make so many things happen."

While Kid and his play-making linemate, Lak Attack, took care of business in the offensive end, Gump closed his pads in the defensive end, holding opposition shooters to less than ten goals, the Sunday Morning equivalent of a shutout on the small hockey court. Even a furious offensive flurry late in the game as his opponents tried to avoid their ignominious fate couldn't deflect his will to achieve the milestone, his first of the season.
"I like the pressure," says Gump. "The team played pretty well in front of me."
"As the game went on, he got better and better," says Lak Attack.
"There's just so much firepower out here that it's really hard to keep one team down that much," says Wendel. "A shutout in this game is a real rarity, it's like a hole-in-one in golf. It's something you just have to savour and enjoy."
While opposing shooters wallow in their misery.
"Gump was solid right from the beginning," says Paul One. "We kinda stepped it up a bit, but he did the same thing, he stepped up his game against us."
"He had a pretty good game," says Cowboy Bill. "But as much credit as we can give him, we didn't really get a lot of shots on him. We didn't have much offensive punch today."

Lobsterboy was a surprise visitor to the courts on Sunday, as he took a break from his fatherly duties to his newborn daughter to knock the ball around in the neighboring court with his other crawfish.

Wink will miss next week's game, as he travels out of town to service the onerous demands of his exploitative employer. He played Sunday's game despite battling a persistent cold, joining the Living Legend as another roadster still recovering from illness.

Posted by jaysuburb at 05:35 PM | Comments (14)

January 23, 2005

Beetle bugs out

Beetle Boy scored seven goals for only the second time in his road hockey career to lead his team to a dramatic 20-18 win in Sunday's game. But it was perhaps the timeliness of those goals that dealt the crippling blow to his feisty opponents.

In the first competitive game since snow and ice buried the courts and caused the cancellation of last week's match, Beetle Boy was as much a pest to harried defenders as the bug for which he's named. Time and again he managed to find the back of the net just as his team seemed destined to squander a lead, including a seeing-eye rapier over Billy Idol's shoulder that broke an 18-18 deadlock late in the game.

"He was el fuego that guy," says Wink, who then sealed the deal by scoring the game-winner. "It just seemed that everything he shot was brilliant."

"He was scoring timely goals," says Bird, who was caught flat-footed when Beetle Boy dashed around him to launch his back-breaker goal. "Normally he doesn't get a lot of goals, that's the shocker, so you normally don't check him all that much."

Even Beetle Boy says he was surprised by his success around the net. "I was hitting the high corners, which is rare for me. I was just happy that whatever was happening seemed to be going my way today."

And what was good for Beetle Boy was especially good for his team. After building an early 7-2 lead and seemingly on their way to an easy romp, his mates' scoring touch suddenly turned to stone and their advantage diminished to one slim goal. It took a pair of quick goals by Beetle Boy to reestablish their momentum, and his side never trailed.

"Momentum is important," says Wink. "There's a real ebb and flow to raod hockey. We were ebbing and then we were flowing, and to get us back to ebbing, we needed Beetle Boy."

"A few times we were up by two goals and they would come back," says Beetle Boy. "Those timely goals just allowed us to regain momentum whenever we seemed to lose it. I seemed to be having some luck today."

"It's tough because we kept coming back and tying, but we could never take the lead," says Bird of his side's frustration. "I don't think anybody expects Beetle Boy to score, so when he scores that many, it hurts."

After two weeks of cold temperatures, snow and ice that resulted in the first weather cancellation of a game in Sunday Morning history, a week of torrential rains cleared the concrete court and warmed the hearts of the roadsters, who were itching for a return to competitive play.
"We have to set the tone for the new year," said Beetle Boy, of his return to the court. "We lost a game to weather, and the other game there was snow and ice on the ground, so it wasn't a good start to 2005. It's nice to have a game where it's good and close."
But the layoff took a toll, as passed skipped past outstretched sticks, shots careened harmlessly into the corners and Billy Idol struggled early between the pipes.
"I think everyone was a little rusty today," said Bird. "There was a lot of sloppy play on everyone's part, a lot of passes went astray and a lot of shots just missed the net."

Perhaps no other roadster was as rusty as the Living Legend, who's been waylayed by a suspected viral infection for the past three weeks. After participating in the pre-game shoot-around, he pulled himself from the game, his first scratch of the season.

Posted by jaysuburb at 06:40 PM | Comments (9)

January 15, 2005

Weather woes scuttle Sunday's game

For the first time in Sunday Morning Road Hockey history, a game is being cancelled ahead of time due to weather.

The icy temperatures that have descended on the road hockey courts through the past two weeks have left the playing surface a treacherous moonscape of ice and snow. And with weather forecasters calling for continued cold weather through Sunday morning and more snow before it finally turns to rain, "It will only get worse before it gets better," says the game's steward, the Living Legend.

Only a heroic effort by the handful of roadsters who reported for last week's game managed to clear half the court of accumulated snow and ice from two previous storms, allowing a semblance of a game to be played. But more snow through the past week has negated that effort and left the other half of the court even more impassable.

"It's not a decision the roadsters take lightly," says the Legend, of the call to scuttle Sunday's game. "Afterall, we've played through all kinds of weather before, snowstorms, icestorms, fog, monsoons and heatwaves. But the forecast says we're gonna get more snow, and then freezing rain, before it finally turns to rain; there's no way we'll be able to get the court into any kind of playable condition, let alone worrying about the state of the roads many of the players will have to drive to even get to the court."

It will be the first game lost to weather since 2001, when four roadsters braved a fierce blizzard only to find the playing courts hopelessly buried under more than a foot of snow. Then, those roadsters were compelled by optimism that the game would prevail.

"I think it shows how much the guys love Sunday mornings," said fellow founding father, Wink, at the time, as he hunkered down at his palatial suburban condo.

But with only eight players, barely enough to convene a proper game, reporting for last week's game, that optimism may be waning. Combined with the deplorable state of the playing surface, "there's just no point," says the Legend. "We might as well sit this one out, avoid any injuries or illness, and look towards next week."

"It's just as well," says Bird. "I was going to skip this weeks game again, since I'm just barely over the flu."

With moderating temperatures and a forecast calling for consecutive days of steady rain, it's likely the courts will again be in perfect playing shape for next week's game.

Posted by jaysuburb at 01:25 PM | Comments (8)

January 09, 2005

Snow fails to ice Shrimp Ring

Kid chopped a blooper from behind the net that bounced off Lak Attack to ice Sunday's Shrimp Ring Bowl, 10-9. But for most of the morning, it seemed as if the game itself would be iced.

Three days of cold and snowy weather had encrusted the road hockey courts with a thick layer of frozen slush and hard-packed snow. It was a daunting landscape, and with only three shovels between the eight roadsters who had bullheadedly braved the elements, enthusiasm was waning.

"I should have just stayed at home and slept in," said Billy Idol as the handful of players battled to get at least half the court cleaned off down to bare concrete. "By the looks of the court and the progress of the work, this game isn't going to happen for a long time."

"I'm feeling a little disappointed," said Cowboy Bill, pondering whether he would be able to make his first start of the new year. "If you wanna come out and play, you've got to put in some work. You can't just magically show up ready to play. Some guys know what that takes."

"There's definitely lacking that sense of collective comraderie that we used to have when dealing with a problem like the weather," said Elvis. "It really makes you question peoples' heart and dedication to the game. We've played in worse, but unfortunately there's less people here to help deal with the conditions."

But as more concrete was revealed, spirits buoyed.

"I don't give a damn what condition the courts are in, it's gotta be game on," said Wendel. "(The Shrimp Ring Bowl) is an important part of road hockey history and an important part of road hockey culture, and we have to do our best to be out here and support it, no matter what the weather throws at us."

With half the court cleared, but icy, and the other half shaved down to an undulating carpet of packed snow, any resemblence of Sunday's Shrimp Ring Bowl to the usual frantic, frenetic pace of a hockey game was purely coincidental. If the roadsters weren't struggling to stay on their feet, they were battling the trajectory of the evil orange plastic ball as it skipped crazily over the snow and ice.

"It's risky and dangerous at times," said Cowboy Bill, whose thundering slapshot from the point was neutralized because he couldn't get any leverage in the slippery conditions. "There's some light stepping and some slow moving players out there."

"You never know when the shot is coming in hard," said Gump. "You've just got to stand tall and hope the other goalie lets in more than you."

"The hardest part is you work so hard clearing off the snow that you're exhausted by the time the game starts," said Wendel. "The main game is clearing the court, and the actual game turns into a minigame."

But against all odds, at least there was a game. And as the roadsters gnoshed on the last remnants of the frosted shrimp ring, both winners and losers were able to bask in their achievement.

"Today it was about fun," said Gump. "This was definitely the most fun road hockey game I've played."

Posted by jaysuburb at 05:10 PM | Comments (7)

January 02, 2005

Vital Idol

Billy Idol scored six goals on Sunday, snapping his season-long scoring drought and leading his team to 20-13 win.

The versatile veteran, who only scored for the first time this season in week nine, after a string of starts as a goaltender, finally looked comfortable in an offensive role as he hustled up and down the court and got himself into position to take advantage of scoring opportunities.

"After you settle yourself down and get your coordination back, it's pretty easy," says Idol, who was spared another start between the pipes when Lak Attack decided to strap on the big leg pads. "I just tried to stay in front of Pig Farming Goalie today, create some opportunities and be there for the rebounds."

"He was hustling his ass off," says Beetle Boy of his resurgent linemate. "He was back working defense, he was winning faceoffs, he was scoring goals, he was doing it all today."

But perhaps most importantly, he was doing it under the radar. As harried defenders tried to keep up with the court-length rushes of Kid and poke their sticks in the way of the half-court bombs of Nibs, Billy Idol was free to roam the zone, cashing in scoring chances as he cruised the crease.

"My job today was just to stay in front of PFG to frustrate him, and it seemed to work," says the offensive onanist.

"A lot of times we let Kid do all the work for us, but it's important to get contributions from everybody," says Beetle Boy.

"They played a good team game," says Wendel of his prolific opponents. "They were able to spring their secondary guys open if we were covering their main guys, and if we were covering their secondary guys they were able to spring their main guys."

Firing on all cylinders, the winners never trailed, and the losers never threatened.

"We got a lot of good bounces, we picked off passes and the whole team played well," says Billy Idol.

"We couldn't do anything right," says Wendel, as his side never got closer than two goals. "We had poor communication, we kept trying to go to the same guys, doing the same things, we were missing defensive assignments. It was just one of those days."

"We just had no legs," says Pig Farming Goalie, who suffered the loss in his last start before an extended hiatus to service the onerous demands of his exploitative employer.

In a season fraught with rain games, the first game of the new year was dry. But the cold temperatures and bright sunshine created new challenges for the roadsters.
The frozen ball bounced crazily, careening off shafts, skipping over blades and inflicting pain whenever it contacted flesh.
"It was so cold the ball was just bouncing everywhere," said Beetle Boy. "It was really hard to control."
"It was a tough game to play for sure because the ball was so hard," said Wendel. "It was like playing with a ball of ice, it was tough to control, tough to contain and tough to get it to do what you wanted it to do."
But it was the sun that created the most difficulty, especially for the goalies, each of whom had to stare straight into the blinding orb for half the game and then contend with harsh shadows at the other end.
"It difficult on both ends," said PFG. "At one end you're looking directly into sun and at other end there was shadows on court in front of you. I think both goalies had hard time."

The good weather should have ensured a big turnout after a rare week off last week so the roadsters could spend the holidays with their families. But with only one spare player on each team, there was nowhere for holiday-weary players to hide.
"You've got to try to play positionally and keep and eye out," said Beetle Boy of his side's strategy for overcoming heavy legs. "I think because we didn't have as many subs today, we were able to get a little more comfortable with each other."

Posted by jaysuburb at 05:09 PM | Comments (13)