September 30, 2007

Rain again

Hopefully, history doesn't repeat itself.

For the second consecutive year, Sunday Morning Road Hockey's regular season opener was almost washed away by a driving rainstorm. Last year, it kicked off the game's most difficult campaign, plagued by weather woes and lackluster attendance.

But Sunday, as the roadsters who did brave the latest storm scrunched up their shoulders against the downpour, some of them found reason to be optimistic.

"It wouldn't be road hockey season if it wasn't pouring rain," said Cowboy Bill. "But we're gonna keep coming out."

"The guys who are here week in and week out know there's going to be a game," said Smith, who was making his first start after he missed last week's training camp. "What I'm seeing out here is a dedicated group of guys who are going to show up every Sunday."

Perhaps most importantly, it's the newest generation of players who are proving the most resilient. Since becoming regulars at the concrete courts, Scooby, Doo, and Scrappy have picked up the mantle once carried by storied veterans like Paul One, Lobsterboy and Wink, who built the game by showing up week in and week out, through sunshine and storms, wind and wet.

"We've got a nice trio of young guys who will help us keep the game going," said Cowboy Bill.

But that still doesn't absolve the veterans who seem to have become fair weather players, said Smith.

"It's a little bit frustrating," said the sophomore centerman.

"We're not seeing some of the people here who'd we usually see," said Cowboy Bill. "Hopefully it doesn't keep the regulars away."

Sunday's weather-bitten attendance may also have affected the final score. As is so often the case, the team with the only substitute jumped out to an early lead, then let it slip away to the undermanned underdogs.

"We just stopped working hard," said Cowboy Bill, as his side squandered their 10-4 lead into a 20-17 loss. "I think once you get up, you have a tendency to try to make prettier plays instead of relying on hard work. That usually comes back and bites you."

Despite their disadvantage, Smith, Scrappy and Bird bit hard, and bit often, taking their first lead at the 15-goal break. And with Lak Attack guarding the crease with renewed confidence after a shakey start, momentum was finally on their side.

"He just started to make it that much harder for them to score," said Smith of his senior shotstopper. "He knows the passing plays and when they stopped shooting and tried to pass around him, he owned them."

"It's just one of those frustrating things," said Cowboy Bill, of his side's inability to regain their scoring touch at the game's most critical juncture. "It's just tough to turn yourself around."

Posted by jaysuburb at 09:56 PM | Comments (7)

September 23, 2007

PFG returns triumphantly

It's been nearly a year since Pig Farming Goalie last strapped on the pads at the Sunday Morning Road Hockey courts. Sunday, he picked up right where he left off, backstopping his team to a tough 15-10 pre-season win.

Not that the veteran agrarian goaltender has been idly slopping out his pig stalls. Hobbled by nagging injuries and dismayed by last season's relentless weather woes that exacted a tough toll on his protective equipment, he sought solace and kept sharp in various rogue games in palatial indoor facilities. And while that experience may have honed his reflexes, it also fueled his hunger to return to his roots in the small Sunday Morning bandbox where defense is at a premium and the action never lets up.

"I think the challenge of this game is that it's a lot quicker," said Pig Farming Goalie, whose shotstopping skills kept his mates in the game until they could find their offensive spark. "On this surface, there's lots of turnovers, you have to be quick in front of net, you have to go back and forth very fast."

After staking his team to a quick 4-0 lead, PFG's resolve, and notorious temper, were tested by a series of defensive miscues that allowed their feisty opponents to claw their way back into the game.

"It's tough to stay calm," said the fiery netminder. "I just have to try to stay focussed on the ball and not let goals get me down too much."

He did this just that. As his team rallied in the defensive zone, he stabbed shots with his lightning glove hand and smothered rebounds under his big leg pads.

"We had to weather a few storms and he really kept us in it," said Bird.

More importantly, Pig Farming Goalie's shotstopping heroics gave his mates the confidence to flood the offensive zone to try to regain their offensive touch.

"If you know the goalie can make the saves, you tend to slack a little more defensively," said Bird. " We had to start shooting a bit more, we just had to get back to the basics."

That including finding a way to thaw out Frosty's cool creaseminding at the opposite end of the court, as he overcame his slow start to put the big freeze on opposing shooters. It was a few lucky bounces that turned up the heat.

"Whenever you get a few lucky bounces, it certainly helps you get back on track, especially if you've lost the momentum for a bit," said Bird, who counted a pair of dubious goals on fortunate deflections.

While both goalies came up big in their pre-season test, most roadsters agree it's the offensive players who have the advantage after the long off season.
"I'd say players have the advantage because goalies can get rusty," said Pig Farming Goalie, who spent much of his off season playing in rogue leagues.
"I think it's whoever keeps themselves in shape over the summer," said Bird between labored breaths.

The pre-season pace also benefited from the infusion of fresh, young legs, as sophomore speedsters Doo and Scrappy indicated their intention to play their first full campaign alongside their quick cousin, Scooby, who's entering his third season at the courts.
"We're getting a lot of regulars from a new generation," said Bird. "It's good to see, it'll keep the game going."

But even as the fleet-footed forwards ran around veteran defenders, the roadsters couldn't help lament the absence of one of the slowest players, Wink, who has yet to be heard from since he achieved officially-sanctioned sex during the off-season.
"I'm very disappointed in Wink," said Pig Farming Goalie. "I know there's commitment to the new wife, but just put her in stable and lock door, that's what we do back home."
"I think it's pretty disappointing, to have so many of the longtime roadsters fade away and disappear like this," said Bird. "He used to rag on some of the roadsters for not coming out and now he's doing the same thing. He's going out with a whimper."

Posted by jaysuburb at 03:38 PM | Comments (6)

September 18, 2007

Questions cloud camp

With less than a week to go to the opening of training camp, questions continue to swirl around the status of one of Sunday Morning Road Hockey's founding fathers.

Notorious gameshow host gone bad, Wink, has been conspicuously quiet during the off-season; he hasn't been heard from since the waning weeks of last season, missing both the Stanley Stick championship series and the annual midsummer evening scrimmage in August.

But that doesn't mean he hasn't been busy. has learned the veteran defenceman got married over the summer, embarked on a honeymoon and then moved into a new home, only blocks away from the road hockey courts. Curiously, none of the roadsters, some of whom he shared Sunday mornings with for 16 years, were ever officially notified of these events, let alone invited to participate in any of them.

That's led to speculation that he may be turning his back on the game.

But one roadster who went through the same thing last summer says it doesn't have to be that way.

Pig Farming Goalie, who achieved officially-sanctioned sex just over a year ago, says the road game and married life can co-exist.

"I can say that it's mostly pretty easy," says the veteran shotstopper of his ability to tear himself away from his marital commitments to play up to three games on any given Sunday. "Sometimes they just want you out of the house."

In fact, about half the roadsters are married; some of them also have children. But while familial life may be all about compromise, PFG says it's important to maintain some semblance of independence.

"It's just like anything else; you get to keep what you want to do... the more foot rubs you give."

Posted by jaysuburb at 07:22 PM | Comments (3)