January 31, 2010

Doo's mates can't get it done

Cowboy Bill and his mates didn't just lose some speed when they lost Doo late in Sunday's game. They lost the game 20-16.
For most of the match, the overmatched underdogs had been able to neutralize the speed advantage of their fleet-footed foes, led by the dynamic duo of Kid and Lak Attack. With Gump playing huge between the pipes, and Cowboy Bill, Colonel, Nibs and Living Legend blanketing their checks, it was Doo who sparked the plays at the opposite end.
"Doo adds another dimension to whatever team he plays on," said the Colonel. "He's fast, he's great on the transition and he gets his shot off quickly."
He also makes his teammates better, luring away defenders eager to take up the chase, opening up the court for them to go to the net, where anything can happen. Like six straight goals to give his side an early 7-3 lead and put their overconfident opponents back on their heels.
"A lot of the goals we got were just garbage goals, picking up rebounds in front of the net, lots of screens," said Cowboy Bill. "We weren't pretty, but we went out there and did the job."
But just as quickly, momentum swung the other way as Velma took advantage of the defensive attention being paid his linemates, Kid and Lak Attack.
That's the kind of day it was, said Cowboy Bill, as one or two goals shifted the game's momentum one way or the other.
"I think it was just one of those days when you put in a ton of energy, you get the momentum but you can't maintain it," said Cowboy Bill.
But when Doo had to leave the game early to attend to a personal matter, his teammates seemed unable to once again swing the game their way. They lacked the speed to get to open spots, they lagged on the backcheck.
"Losing him was big," said the Colonel.
"It was just one of those things that we were just starting to crest, just starting to gain some momentum," said Cowboy Bill. "We lose him, that's one more sub we don't have and you could tell in the waning moments of the game that our team just didn't have the legs anymore."

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January 27, 2010

Hall of Famers to face off Feb. 21

Sunday, Feb. 21 will be a Hall of Fame day for Sunday Morning Road Hockey.

Celebrating 20 seasons of the evil orange plastic ball, Sunday Morning Road Hockey's regular game that day will be followed by a special Hall of Fame Game featuring some of the stars from the league's venerable past including its two greatest goaltending rivals, Goaltending Stalwart Wawrow and Lobsterboy.

"This will be a celebration of Sunday Morning Road Hockey," said the league's sole remaining founding father, the Living Legend. "It will also be a chance for the game's current generation to connect with its storied past."

Goaltending Stalwart Wawrow minded the nets for nine years, including the league's formative seasons at the old tennis courts and the Cariboo lacrosse box. His lightning glove hand and fearless determination to throw himself in front of Winkian blasts without the protection of leg pads earned him the disbelieving admiration of teammates and the grudging respect of opponents. His cutting cackle which punctuated many of his more spectacular saves earned him their wrath.

Wawrow became the first inductee into the Sunday Morning Road Hockey Hall of Fame when he retired in February, 1999 to pursue a new job in a faraway city.

Lobsterboy's colorful career spanned three generations of roadsters. Named for his use of his trapper mitt on its wrong hand that made it look like a claw, Lobsterboy's splayed shotstopping style and crazed pursuit of the evil orange plastic ball along the boards behind his net earned him a number of Stanley Stick championships and the league's first rule modification which banned goalies from covering the ball behind the plane of the goal line.

The Hall of Fame Game will face off at 12:30 p.m., after that Sunday's regular game. It will be followed by a gala reception at the newly-refurbished Terminal Pub.

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January 24, 2010

Lak Attack leads comeback sprint

Even as Sunday's game seemed to be running away from his team, Beetle Boy didn't panic. His side just had to start running.

And with the young speedsters Scrappy and Doo now joined by the fleet-footed veteran Lak Attack, who had started the game in net as regular rearguard Gump arrived late, they just that, scoring six straight goals to charge all the way back from an early 6-1 deficit to take their first lead. They never looked back, sprinting to a resounding 20-12 victory.

"We didn't have our legs going, we were just warming up," said Beetle Boy of his team's slow start.

The addition of Lak Attack seemed to spark his young linemates. Their scrambled attacks suddenly had new purpose and organization with the injection of the veteran centerman's leadership and energy.

"He's just so athletic," said Doo. "He makes us all play better."

"That was a big change," said Beetle Boy, of the goaltending change that came when his side was already down 3-1. "That gave us a solid goaltender and added a top scorer, so that pretty much revolutionized the team right there."

It also demoralized their opponents, who stood around flatfooted and mesmerized as they were repeatedly caught up court by the swift transition game of their fleet foes. And as those breakaways turned into goals, their gait slowed even more while the speedsters swelled with confidence.

"We just had the confidence that even if we had two people up and one person back, you just had that belief in each other knowing that it would be okay, the passes would come up," said Beetle Boy.

"Confidence is the key," said Doo. "Once we had that there was no stopping us."

They were like a runaway train.

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January 17, 2010

Colonel's atonement falls just short

Two weeks ago in his first goaltending start of the season, the Colonel was still wobbly from his Saturday night excesses. The result wasn't pretty, a humbling 20-9 defeat.

Sunday, the irascible veteran was sober. But the result was the same, a sobering 15-9 loss to an undermanned opposition.

With the league going through its usual mid-season attendance woes, the Colonel stepped into the goaltending breach for the second time in three weeks, eager to atone for his Shrimp Ring shame.

"I definitely wanted to play again," said the Colonel. "I didn't want to not play again after such a crap game a couple of weeks ago."

With his senses sharp and his reflexes sharper, the Colonel made a number of key saves early in Sunday's game, keeping his team close against a powerhouse squad led by the dynamic offensive duo of Kid and Lak Attack.

No save was bigger than his stonewalling of the shifty Kid on a penalty shot, awarded when a disputed goal call couldn't be resolved. As the speed forward veered to his backhand, the Colonel sprawled to his left, stabbing his stick at the oncoming speedster. Kid lifted the evil orange plastic ball, chipping it off the keeper's flailing stick and ringing it off the crossbar.

"That's something I'm going to look back on in the stats book as an incredible save, but the truth is he missed it on his own," said the Colonel of the play. "He hit the crossbar, I just kinda had the stick there."

Perhaps. But the play boosted energized his team, who charged up the court with renewed determination to erase the deficit they had dug themselves by failing to convert too many scoring opportunities.

"We definitely had our rushes," said Scrappy, who played his first game in a month. "We were pretty even in chances but it just comes down to who can bury them."

Time and again, Twizzler was equal to the task as the sophomore shotstopper stood tall against the young speedster and his fleet-footed linemate, Doo.

"They had young legs so we knew they were gonna come at us," said Lak Attack. "The game plan was to keep them outside on the perimeter, keep them from getting their shots and let the goalie take care of the angles."

Despite the loss, the Colonel was buoyed by his effort.

"The most important thing about playing goaltender is just taking care of your own end," said the creaseminding convert. "You've just got to play to the absolute best of your ability on every play and you never give up on the ball."

That's got to be worrisome for opponents and encouraging for future teammates.

"He played a great game," said Lak Attack of his longtime nemesis. "He played well positionally and he showed us some really quick reflexes. He kept them in the game, definitely."

"He got us through some rough patches when they just had all the momentum," said Scrappy.

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January 10, 2010

Long shots make for short work

In a short game, it was the long shots that made the difference.

Rapier drives from the point by Nibs and Lak Attack propelled their team to a 15-11 win in Sunday's game shortened by a late start and early finish.

Four quick goals over Gump's shoulder and past his outstretched pad when he couldn't handle the quick, hard shots cost his team the early advantage they had built on some deft passing plays by Kid and Colonel and a pair of opportune tip ins by the Living Legend.

"They were picking corners, they were putting them in off the crossbar," said a disconsolate Gump after what he called his worst game of the season. "You know you're going to get beat by good shots, but as a goalie you have to keep your team in it. As soon as you let in a string of three or four goals, it costs you."

Not just on the scoreboard.

As Gump looked back at the shots that beat him, the shoulders of his teammates slumped noticeably as the run of goals robbed them of their early momentum.

"When you can get off those quick shots and they go in, it really kills the other team's momentum because a lot of times they're looking for great saves from their goalie," said Lak Attack.

It also forced their opponents to play tighter defensively. But turning their attention to jumping on the snipers before they could get off another shot left Cowboy Bill open to pounce on broken plays or juicy rebounds.

"When the other team tightens up, it opens up some holes," said Cowboy Bill. "I was able to pick up some garbage goals along the way because they had to tighten up their checking on Nibs and Lak."

And as they found their range, momentum shifted to their side.

"I think we got some breaks and just kept the momentum going," said Lak Attack.

"It gave us confidence that we knew we just had to put some good shots on the goalie and he was going to let them get past him," said Cowboy Bill.

For the fourth time this season, Sunday's game started as a modified half court match after only seven players showed up. Only an emergency call up to the Kid filled out the teams for a proper game.
The lagging attendance and chronic late starts aren't sitting well with some roadsters.
"It's a tough way to start the day," said Cowboy Bill. "We didn't have enough guys so we had to start playing a half court game and then you sort of have to change your style of play to play full court."
"I think the young people these days just don't understand the game starts at 10:30," said Lak Attack.

The ongoing absence of some stalwart veterans like Billy Idol and Elvis also has some roadsters concerned that some players are just biding their time until the Stanley Stick. That has the league office pondering changes to the eligibility requirements to be able to play in the climactic championship series. Previously, roadsters were required to play at least five games in the season to be eligible for the Stick, but that may be raised to eight this season.
This year's Stanley Stick will be played April 25 and May 2.

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January 03, 2010

Colonel's Shrimp Ring pain

The Colonel just wanted to ease the pain in his head from the previous night's excesses. Instead he suffered a world of hurt, losing his first start in net of the season, 20-9.

His judgement perhaps clouded from alcohol, the irascible veteran may have been hoping to savor the shrimp and tangy cocktail sauce behind the reliable two-way play of Lak Attack and the dependable defense of Beetle Boy. An early 2-1 lead and a scintillating glove save as he reached across the crease to rob the Living Legend's one-timer to the top corner seemed to bode well.

"After that first save, I thought, 'O crap, he's a natural,'" said Velma, who set up the Legend on the play with a pinpoint pass across the crease.

"Your role is to keep the game as close as possible so you give your team a chance to win the game," said the Colonel of his early success. "We're out here to win."

But his optimism was ill-fated as the young speedsters Velma and Doo proved too much for the flat-footed veterans like Beetle Boy and Nibs, who quickly succumbed to the demands of a game without substitutions.

"Fitness was a huge factor," said Beetle Boy, playing his first game in more than a month. "Their team had a couple of young guys and then you have us, who haven't done anything for a while. It just killed us."

Those young guys ruled the boards at both ends of the court, beating wearying defenders to the ball time and again then feeding their veteran linemate, the Living Legend, who nonchalantly cruised the center of the court. He scored four goals, three of them on deflections of shots from the perimeter.

"They were able to get in behind our defense," said the Colonel. "They were passing real well and they got quite a few tip-ins."

"The tips were all working," said Velma. "Our team had great chemistry."

Ten straight goals all but ensured an easy victory. The only thing to be decided was whether they could preserve the road hockey shutout for Twizzler.

"It's important to stay focused," said Velma, as his team faltered slightly late in the game before getting their goalie the goose egg. "He's played well all season and it was nice to give him a bit of a reward."

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