February 28, 2010

A golden day tarnished by truants

The country's glowing hockey moment may also have been road hockey's darkest day.

With Sunday's gold medal showdown between Canada and the United States scheduled for noon, the start time for the morning's road hockey game was moved up an hour to give the roadsters time to play a great game and watch the climactic battle for Olympic hockey supremacy. It was to be the perfect primer for the perfect end to a dramatic tournament, an all-Canadian day of hockey celebration and spirit.

While Sidney Crosby and his mates lived up to their end of the bargain, only an unexpected reprieve from a roving band of roguesters on the prowl for a game to pump up their adrenaline for the afternoon's festivities saved the trio of hardened roadsters, Living Legend, Colonel and Beetle Boy, from slinking home in hockey humiliation.

"It's humbling and disheartening," said Beetle Boy, who admitted the trio was ready to go home without a game when the roguesters arrived with beers in their hands and shinny on their minds.

It's also a long way from a similar circumstance eight years ago, when the roadsters prepped for another Olympic hockey showdown between Canada and the U.S., in Salt Lake City, with a spirited game that became one of that season's highlights.

"It's a different time," said the Colonel, disconsolate at the lack of dedication from many of the game's current generation of players. "At the end of the day people could have got up and come out, had a great game and made a great day of it."

Instead, the sole standing representatives of Sunday Morning Road Hockey had to watch as their rivals in the neighboring court were able to keep their three-year game alive with a full contingent of two teams and then begrudgingly accept the offer of a pick-up shinny match from another band of roguesters to at least make their early trip to the court worthwhile.

It was a bitter pill to swallow, said Beetle Boy. "The roguesters were out there with a full complement and we had to be saved by an outside group."

"I don't think that's the true Canadian spirit," said the Colonel of his truant teammates. "We're not Americans, we don't sit on the couch with beer and chips and just watch hockey; we go out and play it."

And that could become difficult for the roadsters next week if the visiting band of roguesters were enthralled enough by their first experience at the courts to return and claim them as their own.

Posted by jaysuburb at 06:07 PM | Comments (1)

February 26, 2010

Early start on Sunday

Sunday's game will face off at 9:30 a.m. to accommodate the Olympic gold medal game between Canada and the US.

It's a reprise of the 2002 finale in Salt Lake City, when the roadsters also convened early so they could watch that gold medal showdown between the US and Canada. That day turned into a celebration of the game as the roadsters' excitement fueled a 20-16 nailbiter.

The game will be played with a finite time limit of 11:30.

Posted by jaysuburb at 10:08 PM | Comments (3)

February 23, 2010

Legend turns back the calendar

It was like the calendar had been turned back ten years.

The Living Legend shook off a check and streaked in from side of the court. Lobsterboy girded himself for one of the wily veteran's patented backhands that have fooled him so many times.

But the Legend's learned a thing or two in his long road hockey career. Instead he lifted a wrister high over the creaseminding crustacean's shoulder to score the overtime winner, 11-9, in Sunday's special Hall of Fame game.

"I'll never live that down," said Lobsterboy as he peeled off his goalie equipment for the first time in almost two years. "I was expecting a backhand and he took a forehand shot."

In fact, the Hall of Fame game was all about the unexpected.

Journeyman forward dal Monte, who was never known for his prowess around the net when he played back at the old tennis courts and lacrosse box, sparked his side to an early 4-0 lead by scoring the game's first two goals.

And it was a line of aging veterans, Living Legend, Guy Called Mike and Sexboy who forged their side's comeback by outhustling their younger, more spry defenders.

"Maybe we're not as fast, maybe our shots aren't as hard, but people are still competitive," said GCM, who played his first game in more than eight years in a new pair of sneakers purchased on the way to the road hockey courts.

"The one thing that doesn't feel the effects of time is the warrior spirit," said Sexboy, after his first game in almost ten years. "I got my stick on and got out there and that spirit surged back within me."

Although the body wasn't always willing. Even as his side battled its way back into the game after giving up its early advantage, Paul One admitted it was tough to keep up with the pace.

"You forget how quick everything moves," said the veteran forward known for his competitive drive, especially late in the season. "You don't have time to move the ball, everything happens in split seconds out there."

For the younger roadsters who stuck around for the Hall of Fame exhibition, it was a chance to see the game's foundation in action, the blocks of camaraderie and competition upon which the game was forged and that has fueled it for 20 seasons. For the grizzled veterans who strapped on their shinpads one more time, it was a chance to once again feel the sting of the evil orange plastic ball.

"I'm telling you that Father Time goes in one direction and one direction only," said Sexboy. "I felt every year, every month, every day, hustling my butt out there, and it's a tough thing to do."

"Maybe we're not as fast, maybe our shots aren't as hard, but we're still competitive," said Guy Called Mike. "It doesn't matter how old we are."

Three roadsters were inducted into the Sunday Morning Road Hockey Hall of Fame Sunday. The tributes to Lobsterboy, Paul One and Wink are now posted on the Hall of Fame page.
Sunday's Hall of Fame game was preceded by a regular game.
Goaltending Stalwart Wawrow was a late scratch from Sunday's Hall of Fame game after he was called in to service the onerous demands of his exploitive employer.

Posted by jaysuburb at 12:04 AM | Comments (4)

February 08, 2010

Inspirational trio to be inducted in Hall of Fame

When Cowboy Bill was a few pounds heavier and whole lot harrier, he barely knew his way around the road hockey court. He had the instincts for the game, but he made the usual rookie mistakes, getting caught behind the play, failing to pick up his check in the defensive zone.
But with the mentorship and guidance of notorious gameshow host gone bad Wink, he learned how to become one of Sunday Morning Road Hockey's steadiest and steadfast two-way players, a force in the defensive and offensive zones.
"He took me under his wing," said Cowboy Bill of one of the game's fellow founding fathers. "He showed me some of the keys to success on the court and that's something I'll always remember him for."
On Sunday, Feb. 21, Wink and two other beloved veteran roadsters, Lobsterboy and Paul One, will be inducted into the Sunday Morning Road Hockey Hall of Fame as part of a gala day of festivities including the first Hall of Fame Game which will feature some of the league's most colorful players sharpening their sticks alongside the next generation of stars.
Wink's dedication and contribution to the game as one of its staunchest and stalwart players will also be honored with the commission of the new Wink Trophy, to be awarded to the most valuable, dedicated, reliable roadster as voted by his fellow players at the end of the regular season. He played 18 seasons, enduring all kinds of weather and stick pull indignities, before he became inactive two years ago.
He was an inspiration to every generation of roadsters, said his longtime nemesis, Lak Attack. "He was always reliable, and that was important for the game. He always tried to work with his team and not just by himself."
He was a leader, said Cowboy Bill. "You knew when you got up in the morning he would be one of the guys who would be at the court no matter what. He was sort of a catalyst for getting other people out to the court."
"He led by example," said one of his fiercest rivals, the Colonel. "He was dependable, you always knew what you'd get out of him."
And that was a defensive stickler who could turn a game with his fearsome slappers from the point.
"He was a smart player," said the Colonel. "He always got you out of trouble, he was the guy you looked to for some leadership."
"He was always in the way," said Cowboy Bill. "He was one of those guys you hated to play against and always wanted to play with him on your team."
"He had great hands and a great shot," said Lak Attack. "He wasn't known for being the quickest guy, but he definitely had great vision out there."
Lobsterboy and Paul One came to Sunday Morning Road Hockey together as one of the game's most dynamic duos and helped transition it from a loose, lazy weekly scrimmage to a structured, competitive battle with recognizable heroes and villains.
More often than not they were the former, as Lobsterboy stood large and colorful between the goal pipes and Paul One wore his heart on his sleeve week in and week out. Each of them had the knack for coming up with big games when it counted the most.
"There's very few people like Lobsterboy," said Lak Attack. "He always motivated his team. He got his team fired up and the other team fired up against him. You loved him and you hated him all at once."
Lobsterboy played goalie in the "small pad" era, straddling the seasons when Goaltending Stalwart Wawrow played without leg protection at all and the big pad goaltenders like Turk, Ottoman and Pig Farming Goalie.
"He always wore the little pads, he never looked big, but his heart was huge," said Gump, who faced the clawed creaseminder from the opposite end of the court through much of his career. "He was one of the first really steady goalies who played consistently well every week. He really made the players better."
Few roadsters could match Lobsterboy's character, said the Colonel. He was feisty and fearless between the pipes, jovial and high-spirited on the sidelines.
"His passion for the game is the kind of thing that really builds other people's passion for the game."
It was passion that drove Paul One to play his best when the most was at stake. A steady dependable forward in the regular season, he had a limitless capacity to kick his game up to a new level in the Stanley Stick championship series. That's when competitive fire would alight his eyes and fuel his relentless desire for the evil orange plastic ball.
"Paul One was the ultimate competitor," said the Colonel, who survived many battles in the corner with his foe. "He was always hard on the ball. He had great tenacity, and he easily raised the level of his game during the Stanley Stick."
"He had a lot of skill, but he also had a lot of heart," said Gump. "When it came down to the Stick, you always wanted him on your team because you knew you were going to win with him."
"He was one of the few players who, pretty much every shift, he fought for the ball," said Lak Attack. "He never gave up. He would go that extra mile."
And for that he often paid a price. Paul One's career was exclaimed by injuries like bruises, cuts, black eyes, bloody noses and welts.
"He had hands of stone, but he had a lot of tenacity when it came down to chasing loose balls in the corners," said Lak Attack.
"You could see his heart every time he was out there," said Cowboy Bill. "He was going to force everyone else on his team to be a bit better because he was going to make them accountable."
Wink, Lobsterboy and Paul One will be inducted into the Sunday Morning Road Hockey Hall of Fame at a gala ceremony at the refurbished Terminal Pub, following the special Hall of Fame Game, which faces off Sunday, Feb. 21 after that morning's regular game. Former roadsters who've confirmed their appearance so far include fellow hall of famer Goaltending Stalwart Wawrow, Lobsterboy, Lumberjack and Sexboy.

Posted by jaysuburb at 10:49 PM | Comments (4)