April 25, 2006

Pre-Stick slaughter

They were outrun and outgunned, outmuscled and outhustled, outwiled and outguiled. And now some of road hockey's most stalwart veterans will be spending the days leading up to next week's Stanley Stick opener rebuilding their confidence and their game faces after they were thoroughly humbled by a team of young speedsters, 20-6, in Sunday's regular season finale.

"It may rank as one of the worst games ever," said Paul One when the slaughter was mercifully over. "Effort-wise, it was just disastrous."

"It was an abysmal game, probably the worst I've ever seen and been a part of," said Elvis, his head bowed in shame.

For the team of veterans, which also included the Colonel, the Living Legend and ailing superstar, Lak Attack, the wheels fell off early and their game never got on track. Despite their manpower advantage, they were easily outrun by their younger opponents, led by Shakey Walton, the Kid and Scooby, who played the strongest game of his rookie season, powering to the net with newfound grit and determination, weaving his way around flat-footed defenders and a helpless Lobsterboy in the veterans' net.

And as the score piled up, so did the acrimony amongst the veterans. Their passing game collapsed into an embarrassing series of blind give-aways that generated two on one and three on one breakaways for their opportunistic opponents. With Lobsterboy left virtually defenseless, he was unable to stem the barrage.

"A lot of their shots up the middle we picked off quite a bit," said Pig Farming Goalie, who barely broke a sweat in the first warm weather game of the season as he backstopped his young mates to their victory. "This game had a lot of turnovers going both ways, but we just capitalized a little bit better."

"It was really hard for us to connect out there," said Elvis. "The other team really did a good job getting between our passes and beating us to the ball today."

"We were always a step behind them on just about every play," said Paul One. "Everything that went wrong for us went right for them. They were getting every single bounce, stuff in front of our net always seemed to end up on their sticks. They always seemed to have an opening just to chop the shot in."

But the speedsters had more than just bounces going their way. They were hungry, cohesive and unwavering, even in the throes of a mid-game lull that closed the goal gap to three before they were able to net ten straight to finish it.

"We knew we were a little younger, so hopefully we could withstand their barrages once in a while and outlast them," said Shakey Walton. "I think we just had to attack. We had offensive players and we had to use the attacks and forechecks to try to tire them out."

With two of the veterans, Elvis and the Colonel, playing their first games in a month, and another, Lak Attack, still battling his way into shape from a nagging back injury that caused him to miss almost three months, they tired easily.

"We seemed to lose a lot of steam," wheezed Elvis. "It makes me realize I'm going to have to whip myself into better shape for next week and make sure I'm ready for the game."

Indeed, the veterans will have to do a lot of soul searching in the days leading up to the opening of the Stanley Stick championship series on Sunday, if they're to be a force for their teams.

"I think it's gonna play on people's minds, especially when they see the card pull," said Paul One. "If it's anywhere near the same matchups, there could be a lot of problems."

The speedsters, on the other hand, are brimming with confidence, said Shakey, who will be making his Stanley Stick debut on Sunday.

"You feel good and you look to just try and repeat today's performance."

Posted by jaysuburb at 07:58 AM | Comments (16)

April 21, 2006

Soggy Bottom Boys

A soggy sunday greeted the few roadsters who made the trek to the courts last week. It was touch and go until almost 10:30, when 6 players showed up to join the glum 4 who had arrived earlier. The suspense helped to spark a feisty game, with two well balanced teams battling the slippery conditions for an advantage.
Highlights and notables:
--The return of Kid, and his ability to find the centre of Gump's chest protector on most of his early shots.
--Wendel's determined play, probably his best game of the season. He potted four goals, although one was disputed. Video replay after the game clearly showed it hitting the crossbar. Nevertheless, Wendel was named as one of the three stars.
--The excellent passing of Scooby, Kid, and Living Legend. When that line was out, their control of the game was evident by the middle string of several goals.
--The middle frame melt down of Gump, who, victimized by said line above, hurled his stick against the fence when the score reached 10-6. His infuriated tomahawk chop nearly splintered his goal stick in half. Both goalies had mixed success in a game where the ball skipped and careened wickedly on the slick surface.
--Lak's early seeing eye shot to the top corner of the net, followed by a long goal drought as PFG shut him down the rest of the way, including a phenomenal glove hand save after Lak had him beat on a breakaway.
--Beetleboy's quick release shot. And Beetleboy, period: a rare wet weather game for the former Stanley Stick MVP.
--Jay Suburb's absence.
The final score of the hard fought game was 15-10.
With the Stanley Stick approaching rapidly, this sunday's game is the final regular season game for roadsters to sharpen their playoff skills. If the last few weeks are any indication, though, the Stanley Stick will be more of a test of endurance for tired players with few subs than it will be the fast paced, hard shooting affair we've come to expect.

Posted by Cub Scout at 05:30 PM | Comments (2)

April 10, 2006

Cowboy fills the bill - almost

Cowboy Bill wasn't about to let his last game of the season get washed away by Sunday's steady drizzle and tepid attendance. So the big defender squeezed into the undersized goalie's equipment and almost stole a win for his outgunned mates.

But five unanswered goals in the first period, before his defencemen could acquaint themselves with their own end of the court and Cowboy Bill could properly adjust his borrowed protective gear, proved too big a hole to dig out of, as his side succumbed 20-13.

"After those first five goals, we really kept the game close," said Cowboy Bill, who's second career start between the pipes was also his last game of the season, as he embarks on an extended vacation hiatus. "I just had a really slow start and I caught on after that. Those five goals ended up being the biggest difference in the game."

With Bird and the Living Legend playing the give-and-go with Kid, who was making his first start in almost a month, Cowboy Bill and his departed defencemen were dizzied into their early deficit. But they weren't defeated.

Wink found the range with his blistering shot, including one that careened off the head of his young linemate, Scooby, toppling to the concrete court for a few heartstopping moments. Lak Attack found his legs and when one of his shots found the Living Legend's leg as he leaped to clear a line of sight for his screened goaltender, Lobsterboy, Cowboy Bill and his mates were within three goals, 16-13.

"The guys were starting to run around, we were getting lots of chances," said Cowboy Bill.

"We got a couple of unfortunate bounces that let them catch back up," said Bird of his side's mid-game swoon.

But that was as close as they would get, as Kid scored to end the underdogs' four-goal run and restore his side's four-goal advantage.

"I think it was big," said Bird of that backbreaking goal. "It got us that much close to finishing it, and they didn't score after that. We persevered."

"We didn't take advantage of our chances, and they took advantage of their chances," said Wink, of his team's faltered fortunes. "Sometimes you when you play well enough to lose, you do."

Despite the loss, Cowboy Bill was upbeat, his pride intact.

"I feel I played okay, like a rock," said the sometime shotstopper. "It was either we don't play today, or I step up and put on the pads. This is my last week of road hockey, and there's no way I wasn't playing today. It was an easy decision."

Posted by jaysuburb at 09:25 PM | Comments (10)

April 03, 2006

No Lack for Lak

It was a triumphant return for one of Sunday Morning Road Hockey most dominant players this past week. Lak Attack is back, and the back is good. Helping lead his team to a time-shortened 14-12 victory, Lak was pleased, if not by his performance, then at least by the chance to play pain free.

Lak demonstrated hints of his skills that has been so devastating to opposing goalies over the last few years, wheeling and dealing with sudden bursts of speed, and unleashing booming shots from the point. He was quick to point out, though, that he's not in top shape, not yet.

"It'll take a couple of weeks to find the groove again," he said.

And while his teammates were happy to have the speedy roadster playing for them, and not against them, there were a couple of goals he scored that his team would have liked back.

"I can't remember how many goals he scored for us," PFG commented after the game, "but I do know he scored two against us."
He added wryly "That puts a dent in his plus minus."

The goals in question came early and late. The first was reminiscent of Steve Smith's infamous playoff bungler; Lak, in his own zone, attempted a risky cross court pass through PFG's crease. Unfortunately, he also tried to put it through PFG's pad. It bounced off the stunned goalie's leg and into the back of the net.

"Ok. I'm a bit rusty." Lak confessed.

The late goal was perhaps less avoidable, although equally as damaging. A shot from the point deflected off Lak's foot, completely changing direction from down low to up high, and into the top right corner of the net. That put the score at 10-8, with momentum swinging for the opposition.

"Those are tough," PFG pontificated. "I almost got my glove on it, but was moving the other way. Deflections. They happen."

It almost took the steam out of an otherwise excellent game for PFG's squad. A mid game scoring drought for both teams was finally cracked by Shakey Walton, and he and his teammates, Lak, Wink, and Nibs, pushed the game to a 10-6 dominating split.

However, flagging energy and confusion over time limits helped get the opposition back in the game late, lead by Unibomber.

"We could tell they were tired. But hell, so were we. We just kept pushing."
Finding a late surge of inspiration, Unibomber took over the scoring for his squad, tallying the last five of their 12.

"He was a force," PFG stated. "When he lets rip from 15 feet way, you can't even see the shot. Just hear it, hitting the mesh behind you. Pisses me off."

While goals came more frequently in the final half an hour, they were a rare commodity earlier. After battling their way to a 6-6 draw, PFG and Gump, with the added hot weather, took over.

"We must have been stuck there for an hour," Gump said. "The majority of the shots weren't quality chances, but there were enough."

It was clear the weather was taking its toll. And when the chances did come, the goalies were in the way.

"It was hot for us too, but probably not as bad as for the players. Gump and I just shut the door in the middle frame." PFG said.

Things may have been different had two of the game's newcomers not been playing on opposing teams. Shakey Walton and his speedy brother Johnboy found themselves facing off against each other for the first time this year. And the two took little time to demonstrate that brotherly love is well and truly absent between teams.

A collision on the sideboards had Shakey end up on his rear end, only to leap immediately to his feet in a challenge. It came to nothing, as both grinned and walked away, but Shakey wasn't smiling with his eyes.

"Yeah, John Boy's younger and a little less controlled, as you could see," Shakey added of his sibling. "When he plays against his older brother he gets a little intimidated, and tries to compensate. I usually let it go, but that elbow to the head was a bit much."

John Boy had a slightly different take.

"'Less controlled'? The only thing Shakey could hit today was the ground with his ass. He couldn't have missed the net more with his shot if he tried."

"Looks like he lived up to his name today."

John Boy didn't seem to miss his brother much for playmaking, either. He and Living Legend were able to control much of the play in the early going, tallying a nice give and go for the first goal.

As the game went on, though, the heat wilted the players, and the ball.

"We gotta start bringing a cooler," Cowboy Bill put forth later. "In the sun, that heat, it just turns the ball into a soft, squishy orange. Made me thirsty."

For Lak, though, it was sweet enough to just be playing.

"I've missed the game. When I popped in two weeks ago, it was all I could do to not leap in there and start playing. But now, the back feels good, and the legs are coming."

Goalies beware. Lak is back.

There was a good deal of confusion over the final end of the game. The long goalless stretch, with so few subs, lead to an initial consensus to end the game at 12:30, forgoing the usually 20 goal parameter. But the time came, and went, on two different occasions.
"It was a bit absurd," PFG snorted afterwards. "It seemed that the other team just wanted to finish when they had won."
Indeed, PFG's squad had thought the game over three times before it was finally called at 14-12.
"It was 11-8, then 12-9, then 12-11, then 13-11, then 13-12. What did each of those goals come at? Well, 12:29, apparently." Wink scoffed.
Living Legend's side seemed to be the only one who had a say on what time it really was. But even they couldn't agree. After Legend announced four minutes remaining, Cowboy Bill corrected him to three minutes.
Unabomber was unsympathetic.
"Hey, we said 15 minutes left. Sure, we said it twice, but each time it was a clear 15 minutes. It's not our fault they couldn't keep up."
"Whatever, " Shakey said. "We won."

The turnout was disappointing this week, although perhaps not surprisingly so. With the clocks moving ahead one hour early Sunday Morning, there were probably a couple of roadster who struggled to consciousness at 11 o'clock. An unfortunate happenstance, as skies and courts were clear.
One surprising absentee roadster was Colonel. Shakey in particular was looking forward to facing the defiant defenseman.
"Yeah, he was talking trash all week, so I was pretty hyped to put my money where my mouth is. I guess Colonel's money is on his dresser in a piggy bank. A yellow piggy bank."
Other surprise scratches were Bird and Kid. Of course, illegal copies of Brokeback Mountain were just released on file sharing applications this week. Probably explains their absence.

Posted by Cub Scout at 02:05 PM | Comments (16)