October 25, 2009

Roadsters reject indoor move

A pitch to move Sunday Morning Road Hockey indoors isn't gaining any traction even as the roadsters continue to struggle with the sandpaper-like surface of the refurbished outdoor courts.

Sunday, in the first official rain game of the season, the roadsters experienced the flipside of the new tacky surface which has created drag on players sticks causing passes to skip harmlessly over sticks and shots peter out even before they reach the goalies; the rough concrete isn't more grippy when it's wet, as a number of players took tumbles on damp patches.

But that hasn't deterred their resolve to change the way they play the game rather than change the game some have been playing for almost 20 years.

"You've got to play a different style now," said veteran forward Lak Attack. "A lot of the softer passes that normally get through onto the tape of another player aren't going to happen; you've got to put a little more oomph on each pass."

"I think defensively you've just got to be a little more aware that passes aren't necessarily going to go tape to tape," said seasoned centerman Cowboy Bill. "You have to put yourself into position to consider the bounce and to be able to take advantage of those situations."

Both stalwarts rejected outright a suggestion made by the Colonel earlier in the week to explore indoor options for the venerable weekly game. A polished gym floor would give the roadsters an ideal smooth surface to exploit their skills as well as keep them warm and dry in the cold, wet wintery months ahead.

"It would be a faster game, a more skilled game," said the outspoken forward who's tilted against the game's traditions before when he's questioned the leadership of the founding fathers. "I think it would make for a more competitive game and for most people, a little more fun."

But the unknown variables of the playing surface and weather conditions are an integral part of the fun, said Cowboy Bill. "The venue is completely a part of the game. That's why we come out here, it's outdoors, it's a chance to get outside and run around."

"I think we all thrive on the different elements we face each week," said Lak Attack. "It would change the game and I don't think it would be for the better."

Some players suggest all the teeth-gnashing over the new surface is much ado about nothing as they struggle to find their game legs in the season's early-going.

"I think if we get a few good balls, (the surface) doesn't affect the game as much," said Scrappy, whose speedy play up and down the wings has barely missed a beat.

If anything, the bouncing balls and missed plays have brought the game back to the goalies and slower, more methodical lunch bucket players.

"I think for some of the players who rely more on their passing ability and quick moves are struggling more than the players who bang and crash," said the Colonel, who admitted to growing frustration on the bouncy surface.

For the second week in a row, Twizzler recorded a road hockey shutout by holding opposing shooter below ten goals in his side's 15-8 win. It was also the second time in three weeks a game ended with the winning team scoring less than the usual 20 goals.

"Both teams are playing on it," said Cowboy Bill. "It's not like you go one way and it's rough and you go the other way it's smooth. It's the same both ways."

And some players are starting to adjust.

"They're starting to get some of the nice passes going, but it requires a bit more hand-eye coordination," said Lak Attack. "I think over time this will make us all better players."

The inability of his teammates to adapt to the tacky concrete spoiled the return to the crease of ER in his first start in more than two years. The emergency backup keeper made several spectacular saves to keep his team in the game early, allowing them the opportunity to find their legs and tighten the score to a more respectable six-goal margin.

Posted by jaysuburb at 05:27 PM | Comments (8)

October 18, 2009

Man dis-advantage

Sometimes a disadvantage can be an advantage.

Lak Attack and his mates romped to an easy 20-8 win in Sunday's game despite being disadvantaged by having to play without the luxury of a substitute player to spell off tired teammates.

It was a measured win, said the veteran winger, as his side took control early, driving the game's pace so they wouldn't tire themselves out later.

"We just had to make sure we played at a steady pace," said the fleet-footed forward. "I think we were trying to get good quality chances instead of just chasing the ball around. If you're just chasing the ball all game, you're going to get too tired."

With seemingly all the bounces going their way, Lak Attack, Kid and Velma worked the give-and-go with aplomb, peppering the beleaguered Nibs with shots that found the back of the net more often than they got caught up in the goalie's equipment. Before they'd even worked up much of a sweat, they had a 10-1 lead.

"We were getting the bounces at the start and that deflated the other team," said Velma, who lagged behind his dynamic linemates as he played through a nagging cold.

That would be an understatement. Dispirited and disgruntled, their opponents couldn't catch a break despite fresher legs, including the young speedsters Scrappy and Doo who didn't find their scoring touch until the game was already well out of reach.

"On paper they had a really good team. I'm not sure what happened to their chemistry," said Lak Attack. "They seemed to have all the tools, but for some reason they just didn't have their legs today."

Of course, even the staunchest optimist would have a hard time buying into the idea of erasing a nine-goal deficit, said Velma.

"Morale is a big deal," said the shifty sophomore. "If you don't think you can come back, you rarely do. It really wears you down."

Even as the leaders' legs lagged, their advantage didn't as Lak Attack and Kid continued to weave their way around and through flat-footed defenders.

"Those two are awesome," said Velma of his lithe linemates. "I just kinda hitched on for a ride."

Even if they had to do it with only three wheels.

Posted by jaysuburb at 07:46 PM | Comments (14)

October 04, 2009

Goalies take advantage

As the roadsters continue to adjust to the rough concrete surface at the court, the advantage has swung to the goalies.

Sunday, Pig Farming Goalie and Twizzler were virtually impenetrable through the game's first half before the agrarian keeper's mates were finally able to start capitalizing on their chances to take a 10-8 victory. While both goalies made highlight reel saves, more often than not dangerous scoring plays turned into whiffed passes and harmless shots rolling into pads as forwards struggled to control the skipping ball.

"The players have less control of the ball," said Pig Farming Goalie, making a rare start. "There's a lot of weird bounces and ricochets. When they do make passes there's less chance they're going to connect."

"You throw it to your guy and the pass just bounces over their stick," moaned Beetle Boy. "People were getting away good passes but the court was just wreaking havoc with them."

"I think we're all still struggling with the courts and getting our timing," said Lak Attack, who's patented give-and-go attacks more often than not ended with the ball bouncing harmlessly into the corner instead of into the back of the net.

For more than an hour, both goalies took full advantage of their newfound edge as they limited each team to a single goal. With the speedsters neutralized and finesse fizzling, PFG and Twizzler relied on sound positioning and their insatiable appetite for smothering rebounds to keep control of the game.

"The game's a bit slower and they can see the ball coming a bit better," said Lak Attack.

"There was slightly less finesse out there, and what finesse there was, there wasn't a lot of finish to it," said Pig Farming Goalie.

At no time was that more apparent than on a penalty shot awarded to Velma early in the game, when the Colonel threw his stick at the sophomore speedster in a desperate attempt to stifle a scoring opportunity; as he swooped in on Twizzler, his feet moved faster than the ball and, as he reached back to try to regain control, it was too late, the lanky keeper had every scoring lane guarded.

The goals will come, said Lak Attack, when the roadsters adjust to simplify their game. "You have to play the dump and chase a bit more, try to hit the guy with a nice pass and get away the shots quickly."

"You're just going to have to run a little more," said Beetle Boy. "You can't depend on the outlet passes because the chances are they're not going to get to you."

But the very bounces that seemed to working for the goalies Sunday could just as easily go against them next week, said Pig Farming Goalie. That should make for an interesting, and occasionally frustrating season.

"We're under the same kind of randomness that was messing the players up," said the veteran shotstopper.

"The goalies also have to deal with some funny bounces, so I think it evens out in the end," said Lak Attack.

Posted by jaysuburb at 08:02 PM | Comments (5)