December 18, 2006

Mr. Smith goes in net

With the score in Sunday's game already 7-1 before the roadsters had much of a chance to work up a sweat, some of them started to think about a consolation mini-game. But Smith had other ideas.

The rookie rearguard, making his first start between the pipes in his Sunday Morning career, overcame an early case of the jitters to allow his team to claw their back into the game. And while the deficit proved too large to overcome, as his side succumbed 20-14, the quiet creaseminder staked his claim as a worthy saviour.

"I just didn't want to embarrass myself," said the the netminding neophyte, who became the latest roadster to be cajoled into plugging the hole in Sunday's Morning's decimated roster of rearguards.

But for the first period and a half, it looked like he was doing just that, Time and again shots bounced off his pads to opponents' sticks and then into the back of the net. His teammates were careening, the game was in danger of quickly getting out of reach.

"We just caught ourselves with not enough guys back to clear the rebounds," said Cowboy Bill, no stranger himself to the challenges faced by substitute goalies.

Sensing a quick kill, opposing forwards buzzed the crease as shots rained in from the point, the side boards, even from seemingly impossible angles behind the net.

"When you're facing a new goalie, especially one who doesn't have that much experience, you've just got to get a lot of shots on him," said Bird. "I think we were just working hard early on."

But as has been seen countless times in the Sunday Morning game, big leads seem to have a diminishing effect on work ethic. As Bird and his mates eased their pace, Smith found his, stabbing his glove hand deftly to smother high shots, putting his paddle down to steer slappers harmlessly into the corners, falling on rebounds that died at his feet.

His new-found confidence quickly extended to his teammates, who took to the offensive zone with renewed vigor and determination. Twice they were able to reign the runaway game to within three goals.

"We got our rotation going, we started to hustle," said Cowboy Bill. "We were starting to tire the other team out."

"They had quite a run on us to get within three or four," said Bird. "I think we knew we just slacked off a bit. We really had to get our heads back into the game. We knew we had to pick up the pace."

They also had help from a couple of fortuitous bounces, one of them off Elvis into his own net, another a bad clearing attempt by Doo that slipped past his own goalie.

"That was our time, that was our moment," said Bird of the lucky plays that allowed his team to restore its early advantage.

"Those are tough on the goalie, because you're trying to make some saves," said Smith. "I don't think anyone expected us to come back after it was seven to one, but we definitely made a longer game of it."

For the first time in weeks, Sunday's game wasn't played in a rain or snowstorm. But the start was delayed as the court had to be cleared of a skiff of snow and ice that had fallen earlier in the week.

While the weather may have improved for Sunday's game, attendance continued to languish. A number of regulars, like Paul One, Wendel, Wheels and Buzz have yet to make an appearance at the court this season while Lobsterboy, Pig Farming Goalie, the Colonel, Wink and Beetle Boy have made only sporadic starts.

The Living Legend scored the winning goal; it was sweet revenge after he was sent hobbling to the sidelines three times in Sunday's game, once when he fell hard to the court while making a rare defensive play, once when a shot deflected into his mouth and another when his foot got in the way of a slapshot.

The roadsters will take next Sunday, Christmas Eve, off, but they will play the following week. The annual Shrimp Ring Bowl is scheduled for Jan. 7.

Posted by jaysuburb at 07:35 PM | Comments (4)

December 11, 2006

Roadsters can't shake preseason

You can forgive the roadsters if they feel like they're playing in some sort of Groundhog Day nightmare. Just as Bill Murray couldn't awake from the interminable repetition of his most dreaded day, some Sunday Morning regulars say they can't seem to escape the preseason, even though they're eight weeks into the regular campaign.

Plagued by wet courts, heavy rain, a snowstorm that scuttled play for two weeks, and sagging attendance, many of the players say they're struggling with their timing and fitness

"Everyone seems to be a little bit out of sync," said Unabomber, who returned to the lineup from a back injury that kept him out for a month. "It's almost like the preseason never ended."

"Everyone's timing is a bit off," said Bird, who's side struggled on the wet court early in Sunday's game before they were able to storm back for a 20-14 win.

"You get out there and all of a sudden you're winded," said Smith. "You end up playing more conservative. The wet conditions mean everybody is a bit more tentative."

"There was some rust out there," saig Gump. "It takes some time to get back into the swing of things."

And that makes for scrambly, haphazard play and suspect defense; goals are scored in bunches and winners decided by momentum.

"The court is slippery so that's not helping matters," said Bird. "It's a good game, but it's just a bit off from what it should be."

Instead of fighting along the boards, players are fighting to keep their footing. Passes roll harmlessly into the corners as forwards spin their wheels.

"There's no easy place to hide out there," said Smith. "You get caught and all of a sudden you've got three goals scored against you."

"You can't get caught out of position too much because turning and going the other way is pretty tough," said Bird.

"I think people are taking it a little too easy," said Unabomber. "They get a little too relaxed and the other team takes advantage. It's all momentum."

Posted by jaysuburb at 06:57 PM | Comments (0)