April 29, 2007

Crease crashing comeback

With his team streaking past flat-footed defenders to an early 5-2 lead, Lobsterboy could see victory in Sunday's Stanley Stick opener on the horizon. Then Unabomber got in the way. And Beetle Boy, the Living Legend and Snoop.

The sizable slapshooter crashed the crease, his mates crowded the lanes, blocking the goalie's sightlines so the Colonel and Lak Attack could launch high hard shots just beyond the goalie's grasp en route to a hard fought 20-14 comeback win.

"They were reeling, they were back on their heels," said the resurgent rearguard, who was making his first start in more than four months, of his side's first period dominance. "But i haven't been playing so I'm not used to the ball switching direction in mid air so much and they got a lot of top corner goals."

With a distinct speed disadvantage, the early-game underdogs knew they'd have to control the battlefield if they wanted to seize control of the game. And with Lobsterboy's lightning reflexes as honed as ever, the crease became the Stanley Stick's Maginot Line.

"We had to dig down and find something else," said Unabomber, who set the tone when he crashed hard into Lobsterboy, sending the creaseminder crashing back into his net. "We had to start just winning the little battles, we had to work a little harder."

"We got traffic in front and shots on the net," said Colonel, whose blistering spinnerama shot past a flailing Kid and Lobsterboy's outstretched hand sparked his side's Game One comeback. "We got him moving around quite a bit, we had quite a few rebounds, he was flopping and floundering and we got them upstairs on him."

"That's what happens, you get these ugly goals on long shots through traffic in front," said Smith, as his team tasted their first lead at 8-7.

"Sometimes the goals come in bunches, like they did today," said Paul One, of his side's second period swoon. "The shots that went in were the ones he didn't see."

At the other end, Gump shut the door, smothering rebounds at every opportunity, neutralizing his side's speedy and skillful opponents.

"They had a lot of speed and a lot of skill up front," said Colonel. "We needed to keep them to the outside, we didn't want them to beat us one on one, we couldn't give them odd-man opportunities."

"I think we just had to not be intimidated by all the speed on their side," said Unabomber.

The battles in front of the net, in the corners and along the boards exacted a toll. Scooby retreated with a bloody nose as he and Colonel clashed. Paul One took an elbow to the head from the Living Legend who was in turn hobbled by a stick across his kneecap.

"There was a lot more contact out there," said Smith. "We played more of a Stanley Stick style, going a little more heavy in the corners and they started to back off a little."

But they didn't give up. While Lobsterboy and his mates were bloodied, they weren't bowed, even as the game seemed to be slipping terribly away, 18-11.

"We had heart, and we knew if we just played harder, we'd score more goals," said the creaseminding crustacean as his side put together a three goal run before succumbing on shots from Colonel and Beetle Boy.

"We wanted to set up for next week," said Paul One of his team's late game comeback that fell four goals too short. "We just wanted to be able to prove to ourselves that we could still score goals, we wanted something positive to build from."

But Sunday's winners are just as determined to knock their opponents' confidence back and their fleet forwards down.

"I fully expect we'll come out and play hard," said Colonel.

"We've just got to keep doing what we're doing," said Unabomber.

"We've got to battle hard and don't worry about it being pretty," said Smith.

Lobsterboy was a surprise starter after he made changes to his travel arrangements from a faraway country so he could make his first start between the pipes in more than four months. But any doubts about his readiness were quickly erased as he stabbed shots with his lightning glove hand and smothered rebounds between his floundering legs.
"Everyone was a little bit curious about what we'd see from him, and he came up big all day," said Paul One of his shotstopping teammate. "He seemed to have his angles down, technically he was there."
"He was just playing balls out in the beginning," said Unabomber. "Maybe it was just a little bit of adreneline."
"I was actually really really impressed with the way he played, considering he hasn't played much this year," said Colonel.

Sunday's winners will be without a key player for next week's Stanley Stick finale, as Smith won't be available due to a prior commitment in another city.
"Smith will be a big loss," said Colonel of the looming loss. "But it's Stanley Stick time and everyone steps up, you win as a team, you lose as a team."
But Smith absence will be tempered by the insertion of two new players into the game, as Billy Idol and Doo are expected to be available. They'll be placed onto teams prior to next week's game.

Posted by jaysuburb at 05:39 PM | Comments (37)

April 22, 2007

Scrappy Stick prelude

To win the Stanley Stick war, which begins next week, the victors will first have to win the battles.

That means mucking it up in the trenches, battling the boards, fighting for faceoffs, controlling the crease.

"There's a lot of evenly matched guys out there, so it comes down to winning those battles for the loose balls, rebounds," says Cowboy Bill, who will miss both games of the championship series due to previous commitments. "it's those little things that will make the difference and turn the tide for you."

"Everyone seems to elevate their play," says Paul One, who played only his third game of the season Sunday to ensure his eligibility for the season finale. "Everyone backchecks and everybody seems to go hard at the ball."

As the action gets down and dirty, it will be the determination and doggedness of the muckers and pluggers that will make the difference, says Gump. Players like Nibs, Beetle Boy, the Living Legend.

"We already know the big players are going to match up, so it'll be up to the guys who don't score as often."

And it will be up to the goaltenders to repel their challenge, says One.

"It always seems to come down to goaltending," says the veteran forward. "As long as you get the big saves and don't give up three for four goals on a run; those will break your back every time."

Which is almost what turned the tide for his side in Sunday's scrappy prelude to the two-game title tilt as they scored five straight goals to wipe out a 12-7 deficit before Nibs scored two seeing-eye goals late to seal a 20-18 win.

"Today had a little bit of a Stick feel to it," said One. "I don't think we can hang our heads too much, we put in a good effort right up until the end."

Indeed, One and his mates seemed to have momentum going their way and their opponents back on their heels when the game abruptly stopped so the roadsters could tend to a head injury suffered by Scrappy; he was cut when a falling Beetle Boy caught the rookie forward with the shaft of his stick.

"I think we'd lost a little bit of our flow," said Cowboy Bill of his team's mid-game swoon.

But the break gave them a chance to regroup, and a trade of Unabomber to their suddenly undermanned opponents allowed them to reestablish their set line combinations.

"That was big because then you can go more on your intuition, you know where your linemates are going to be because you've been playing with them."

Matching their feisty foes goal for goal after the break, it was Nibs who came off the bench to decide the outcome. After shortshifting all game due to excesses the night before, the seasoned slapshooter saved his best for last, scoring twice on his last shift to make the difference.

"He came on when it counted," said Gump. "He came out and did the job for us even though he struggled through the first part of the game."

Posted by jaysuburb at 07:48 PM | Comments (15)

April 08, 2007

Comeback spells relief

Unabomber's seeing eye shot between Ottoman's gargantuan goal pads spelled a 20-18 victory for his team. But mostly, it spelled relief.

That's because they never should have been in such desperate straits.

Sparked by Bird's four goals, they had bolted to a quick 9-3 lead and seemed en route to a quick and easy win; the Kid was in his element in the slick conditions, Gump was impenetrable between the pipes, even the Living Legend found the net three times.

But in the Sunday Morning game big leads have a way of breeding complacency. Sloppy breakout passes by Kid, Unabomber and the Living Legend ended up on the sticks of forechecking forwards and quickly found their way into the net behind a stunned Gump. Their six-goal advantage evaporated.

"We screwed up getting it out of our end and it just snowballed into a tsunami of goals," said Unabomber of his side's mid-game swoon. "We just slacked right off, we started coasting and it bit us."

And with Lak Attack's ferocious appetite for scoring opportunities, the underdogs seized control of the game.

"We were a bit surprised to be able to come back from so far down," said the fleet-footed forward. "The first thing we had to do was not let any more goals come against us real quick, tighten up defensively and then from there just try to get one goal at a time."

As the underdogs took the lead for the first time, Bird and his mates floundered in disarray and confusion.

"I don't know why we were so far ahead to begin with, I don't know why we collapsed," said Bird.

But with the score now 18-14 against them, they knew what now needed to be done.

"We just had to start taking it seriously," said Unabomber. "It was time to face the music."

"I think we were all a little embarrassed," said Bird. "To be that close to losing the game, I think we all just picked it up a bit, hustled a bit more."

None more so than Gump, who regained his form from earlier in the game, diving across the crease with aplomb, jamming his pads into the posts to deny wraparound attempts, snatching hot shots with his lightning trapper.

"Gump was exceptional at the end," said Bird, who made a key save of his own when he blocked the evil orange plastic ball from crossing the goal line when a rebound slipped through the pads of his sprawling goaltender. "He started to make some great saves, he was holding us in it."

"We still kept coming hard," said Lak Attack, whose side never scored again. "Gump made some good saves that kept them in the game."

Inspired by their goalie, Unabomber and his mates stormed into the game's final period with renewed determination. And desperation.

"We just had to dig down, persevere and find the work ethic we needed to come back," said the sure-footed slapshooter.

"They were a tough team," said Lak Attack.

And, as they gathered around Gump to bump gloves and rub his head for a job well done, a very relieved one.

Posted by jaysuburb at 09:37 PM | Comments (19)

April 02, 2007

Marathon man

Lak Attack may be one of Sunday Morning Road Hockey's speediest, most elusive forwards. Sunday he also proved himself to be one of its most agile goalies.

Making several cross crease stretch saves, Lak Attack showed off his prowess and athleticism, facing a barrage of shots from every angle in a three-hour overtime marathon. And while his team ultimately succumbed, 21-19, opponents were awestruck.

"I thought Lak was unbelieveable out there today," said his creaseminding counterpart, Gump. "He always seems to step it up a notch whenever we play against each other."

Several times early in the game, the lanky shotstopper robbed Kid and Smith, allowing his side to scratch their way to a narrow 10-8 lead at the game's halfway intermission. But the onslaught was just too much to handle.

Kid set the game's second half alight, leading a 7-1 run that turned their deficit into a 15-11 lead.

But as quickly as he faltered, Lak settled down, making several key saves to keep his side in the game. Scooby, making his first start in weeks, answered the challenge, sparking the offense to tie the game at 19, before the tide turned again.

"Both teams had plenty of chances to win it today," said Colonel of his side's bitter defeat.

(With files from Gump)

Posted by jaysuburb at 05:56 PM | Comments (10)