October 26, 2008

Lateness lament

Instead of a game report this week, roadhockey.net is publishing this editorial from Sunday Morning Road Hockey's sole remaining active founding father, Living Legend:

A few years ago, when some players started complaining about the increasingly late start of games, we experimented with a 12:30 curfew for games to finish. Players sometimes had other commitments on Sunday afternoons, and they wanted some assurance they could make those while still getting in their weekly road hockey fix.

Alas, the experiment lasted a few weeks before old, bad habits kicked in again.

Perhaps it's time to revisit that experiment.

Sunday should have been an epic day. The weather was perfect. The courts were dry. It's been a number of years since we're enjoyed such a run of nice conditions to start the regular season. But at 10:28, only two minutes shy of when the games are SUPPOSED to start, only Cowboy Bill and I were on the court, ready to play.

To have to wait more than an hour for enough players, enough goalies and enough equipment to be able to hold a proper game is unacceptable. For that to happen on such an ideal day for a game, this early in the season, is unconscionable.

I think we all understand the roadsters have busy lives away from the court. And sometimes those lives are going to interfere with their ability, or desire, to make it to the game. But we've got a big enough pool of players, we've got enough backup goalies with experience between the pipes, and we've got enough equipment, that we should be able to cobble together a game, no matter who is missing. It's getting that game started at a reasonable time that is proving increasingly problematic.

Sunday Morning games are supposed to start at 10:30. Ideally, that means the goalies are suited up and warmed up, the sticks have been drawn, and the ball is ready to be dropped at center court. That time isn't an accident. It's early enough that we can get a decent game in while still leaving time in the afternoon for the roadsters to get back to their regular lives. And it's late enough to allow players a decent sleep-in, or to get over their Saturday night excesses.

But too many players are taking liberties with that 10:30 start. They seem to think it's just a suggestion.

Bullying and cajoling players to show up on time hasn't worked. Enforcing a hard start time hasn't been successful.

So maybe it's time to bring back the 12:30 curfew. That would put the onus back on the players to make sure they show up on time if they're really serious about getting a good game in; if they want a full two-hour workout, they'll be at the court and ready to play at 10:30. If they show up late, they'll have only themselves to blame for a lesser 1.5, or one hour game.

The 12:30 curfew would also bring some certainly back to the game, so players who do have other commitments could plan their Sundays accordingly. Who knows, some of those players who've disappeared since the last curfew experiment may return to the game.

In the season opener, Pig Farming Goalie's pre-game declaration that he had to leave at 12:30 brought a much-needed sense of urgency. The ball dropped by 10:45.

We need that urgency and commitment to get the game going every week.

The comment board is open.

Posted by jaysuburb at 05:21 PM | Comments (9)

October 19, 2008

Seeing eye surprise

Elvis snapped a seeing eye shot past a screened Twizzler to salvage a 16-15 sudden death nailbiter in Sunday's time-shortened regular season opener.

It was an unlikely finish to a game in which his team squandered a surprising 9-2 lead to their speedy and skilled opponents then battled back from a 14-13 deficit of their own.

For the second week in a row rookie rearguard Twizzler struggled to contain rebounds early in the game, allowing Elvis and his mates to build their advantage over a lineup stacked with fleet-footed forwards like Lak Attack and Kid, and big shooters like Colonel and Nibs. Buoyed by their success around the net, they also battled hard along the boards and forced the forecheck.

"We were getting lots of shots, and I thought we were moving the ball around really well," said Elvis of his side's early success.

But the veteran sharpshooters weren't about go down easily. With Colonel and Wendel crashing the crease, Kid and Lak Attack took control of the mid-court, wheeling and dealing their way across center and peppering a harried Pig Farming Goalie with shots from every angle.

"it was only a matter of time before we could open it up," said Lak Attack. "We made some crisp passes and we were able to bury some of the chances that we weren't burying early in the game."

"We had a lot of firepower, and we just had to keep throwing at Pig Farming Goalie," said Wendel.

While PFG and his mates bowed to the barrage, finally giving up their lead late in the game, they didn't break.

"I never felt like we were out of the game," said Elvis of his side's mid-game swoon. "We might have got away from our game a little bit towards the end, but I don't think we ever really had our backs against the wall."

Indeed, instead of panicking, they battled the boards and drove hard to the net confident that PFG's lighting glove hand would bail them out of any defensive miscues.

"They were quicker on the ball, they were quicker on the transition game," said Lak Attack of his feisty foes.

"They had a lot of competitive guys,and you've got to expect they'll just keep coming at you," said Wendel, who admitted his team paid a price for their earlier comeback.

The end to Sunday's game was as controversial as it was sudden. While Sunday Morning regular season games have traditionally been played until one team reaches 20 goals, with a two-goal margin over their opponents, Sunday's opener had a finite time limit due to Pig Farming Goalie's departure for another commitment.
With the deadline upon them and the score tied at 15, the commissioner declared the winner would be decided by the next goal. When Elvis scored that goal, some players on the losing team declared their dismay with the sudden death edict.
"I didn't know that was the end of the game," said Wendel. "I thought players were just coming off from their shift. That's just the way the ball bounces, I guess."
"We need a new commissioner," declared the Colonel.

Sunday's season opener was the first in five years to be played in dry conditions. The last time the season started on a dry court was 2003.

Posted by jaysuburb at 03:37 PM | Comments (12)

October 13, 2008

A scrappy way to win

With no spare player to spell off tired teammates, Scrappy and his team knew if they were to win Sunday's final preseason tuneup they'd have to build an early lead then hope their weary limbs could weather the inevitable late-game swoon. And Pig Farming Goalie would have to be in mid-season form.

They scored on all counts, carrying a 10-5 lead into the final period before scrapping out an unlikely 15-13 win.

Facing a neophyte netminder, Twizzler, called up by Nibs from the defunct afternoon game, the undermanned underdogs stormed the net right from the opening face-off, sending two players deep to pounce on rebounds and rattle the rookie rearguard while a defender conserved energy in the backcourt. Taking an early lead gave them confidence. Building it gave them a cushion.

"You know you're going to get more tired than they are, so we knew we had to pile on as many goals as we could, so when we got tired at least we had that bank of four or five goals," said a sweaty Scrappy after the game. "We knew we had to keep it down in their end as long as possible.'

"It was good to build up that lead and give ourselves a little bit more insurance," said Billy Idol, who responded to his reprieve from backup goaltending duties by scoring eight goals. "Once we found our long shots and their goalie was letting out a lot of rebounds, we were able to capitalize."

Their rested opponents were shellshocked by the early barrage. But with the extra man on their side, Elvis said they were confident they could prevail.

"We had all the advantages going in, and maybe we just didn't take it seriously enough because we thought it was in the bag," said the veteran centerman. "The other team showed a lot of heart, they played hard, they checked hard."

And when exhaustion started to take its toll as defenders let their checks slip past, Pig Farming Goalie proved almost impenetrable.

"He was amazing back there," said Scrappy of his team's titanic netminder, who managed to steal away from his newfound fatherly duties to make a rare start. "We had so many two-on-ones and three-on-ones we gave up because we were slow, and he held the fort."

With PFG on his game, Billy Idol and his mates could afford to stroll back from the offensive zone on occasion to save their legs, as long as there was a defender deep enough to dispatch rebounds.

"We were able to let those two-on-ones go every once in a while because we knew we had a goalie who can handle it," said Idol. "That makes a huge difference when you're playing without a sub."

While Elvis and his mates battled back late to tie the game at 13, they never took the lead.

"We had some good pushes, but every time we got close, the other team would just pour it on," said the frustrated forward. "We just couldn't find it within ourselves to rise up to their level."

Posted by jaysuburb at 07:52 AM | Comments (8)

October 08, 2008

Beetle bails out game

The season hasn't even started yet, and Sunday Morning Road Hockey is already in crisis.

Beetle Boy made his first career start in net in Sunday's second pre-season game after a report that veteran goaltender Gump could miss the first two months of the season. And with regular rearguard Pig Farming Goalie preoccupied with his new fatherly duties and Lobsterboy unreliable, the league may be launched into the new campaign with a crippling shotstopper shortage.

"Suddenly, the 'shooter-tutors' that the roguesters are using look good to us," said Beetle Boy, referring to the wooden net guards used by a neighboring game instead of relying upon the vagaries of a sometimes flighty creaseminding corps.

Sunday's crisis was further exacerbated when only one roadster, Nibs, brought goaltending gear. Only a chance encounter with Lak Attack, who hadn't been planning to play as he opted to work on his conditioning, saved the day, and he was dispatched to bring his own set up equipment.

Recruiting rearguards has been a challenge for the roadsters since the retirement of Hall of Famer, Goaltending Stawlart Wawrow, more than eight years ago. Saviors like Ottoman, Couch, Frosty and New Guy have come and gone, unable to withstand the physical barrage and mental punishment of being the last line of defense in the small confines of the road hockey court. And with veterans like Lobsterboy, Gump and Pig Farming Goalie succumbing to the wear and tear of the grueling position to find other, less hazardous, Sunday morning distractions, the waning backups, Nibs, Lak Attack and Billy Idol, have increasingly been forced to set aside their offensive aspirations to step between the pipes. They're not always happy about it.

Beetle Boy's cinderella start in the crease fell just short, as his team succumbed 20-16. But neither goalie was severely tested, as the roadsters continued to struggle with the timing of their passes and accuracy of their shots.
This Sunday's final tune-up could also be a spartan affair, as a number of roadsters, including Beetle Boy, Colonel, Cowboy Bill and Lak Attack, have already indicated they'll be absent.

Posted by jaysuburb at 06:23 AM | Comments (1)