April 19, 2009

Setting up for the Stick

On his first shift of his first Stanley Stick game, Scrappy found himself knocked flat on his backside by Elvis. It was a bruising wake up call for the young speedster to the intense physical and mental toll of Sunday Morning Road Hockey's championship series. He won't be letting it happen again.

"Things get quicker, so you can't be caught flat," says the sophomore centerman, a season wiser and tougher as he prepares to play in his second finale, which begins May 3. "You have to make snap decisions. Everyone gets banged up, bruises, scars."

Velma's heard the stories of epic four-hour battles and smashed eyes; the rookie forward knows he'll have to gird himself for the toughest games of his young career. So he's making sure he gets as much playing time as possible to prepare.

"Most of us should be in pretty good shape by now," says the playmaking winger who warmed up for Sunday's game by participating in a 10 km run in another city. "It's a grind and it's all about the mental effort."

Lak Attack knows what it takes to win the Stanley Stick. Other than the Living Legend, there's no other roadster at Sunday's game who's played in more finales. He's a former series' MVP.

"Mentally, you've got to step it up," says the veteran sniper. "You're razor sharp in terms of what you need to do, you've got to make sure every pass is crisp, you've got to make sure every play is a good play."

And you've got to be hungry, says Doo. With his team a goal away from being swept in last season's championship, Doo teamed up with Unabomber to spark the most incredible comeback in Stanley Stick history.

"You've just got to be tenacious," says the feisty forward who was a finalist for series' MVP last year. "That's the biggest thing in the Stick; the goals will come with the tenacity and you've just got to be really focused on that."

With only one more regular season game to be played until the start of the two-week championship showdown, many of the roadsters are already looking ahead.

"The Stick is a big deal, it's what everybody plays for all season," says Elvis, who's never lost a championship series in his eight seasons. "You've got to be prepared, you've got to really be on your game."

"The gams is three or five times the pace of a regular game," says Beetle Boy. "There's lots of physicality, lots of stick work, so you just have to prepare yourself that it's quite a jump from the regular season."

Sunday's game was a preview of the goaltending duel that will open this season's Stanley Stick Championship, as Nibs out-dueled Twizzler 20-16. Earlier in the week Gump announced he'd be unavailable for the finale's first game.
Neither goalie was particularly sharp, as each fanned long shots early in the game while they shook off the rust that may have settled from last week's rain out. Twizzler also struggled with rebounds and his team was never able to get closer than a goal.

This year's Stanley Stick will be missing some storied players as a number of veterans failed to play the requisite number of games to ensure their eligibility for the post-season. Notorious Gameshow Host Gone Bad, Wink, will miss his third consecutive finale, while Lobsterboy and Paul One are also ineligible. Only two rookies will play, Velma and Twizzler.

Posted by jaysuburb at 05:40 PM | Comments (25)

April 05, 2009

A hard way to win

With only three weeks left in the regular season, there are no more easy games. Sunday's 16-13 win for Pig Farming Goalie and his mates was especially hard. Literally.

After struggling for most of the first half, the game turned around when Colonel tossed in a new, harder ball. Suddenly the bounces - and there were many of them - started going their way.

"We used the bounces to our advantage," said the veteran shotstopper, who made his first start in two months.

While their opponents scrambled to control the lively sphere, PFG's forwards cashed in the rebounds that careened off Twizzler's pads and arms.

"We were just putting more shots low on Twizzler," said Scrappy. "They were bouncing off his pads and we were getting a lot of rebounds, a lot of ugly goals."

"We were just able to handle it more" said Beetle Boy, whose offensive struggles Sunday were offset by his solid defensive effort. "We had some players who really could move it and deke with it, but they couldn't do that with the sticky ball."

Indeed, the warm, sunny conditions had softened most of the balls, sending passes skipping over sticks, deadening shots into the goalies' equipment.

But with the introduction of the hard ball, the tempo of the game picked up as players enjoyed more success with pinpoint passes, and rebounds presented newfound scoring chances.

The frantic pace put the goalies on alert.

"I just had to speed everything up," said Pig Farming Goalie, who put his stamp on his return when he robbed Nibs of a sure goal with a lightning stab of his glove hand. "You definitely had to try to minimize rebounds because that ball would just ricochet off your blocker, your foot and in."

"He kept us in there with some huge glove saves," said Scrappy of his comeback creaseminder. "It really helps having a solid goalie between the pipes."

"He had a couple of huge saves... that allowed us to take some chances up front," said Beetle Boy.

And they were full measure for those chances, converting their opportunities with renewed confidence, as almost every player on the winning side got in on the scoring.

Sunday's game ended abruptly when Pig Farming Goalie tweaked the groin injury that has hobbled him most of the season. But the clock was ticking anyway, as the veteran goaltender was about to leave for a prior engagement.
"it's disappointing to call it early," said Scrappy. "That's the way it goes sometimes, you live and die by the goalies."
"We were confident that we would be able to hold on, "said Beetle Boy, even has team had given back a couple of quick goals after opening up a 16-11 lead.

Posted by jaysuburb at 10:05 PM | Comments (23)