August 26, 2010

Off-season changes little

Beetle Boy is a little bigger. Colonel is a little hairier. Scrappy and Doo are a little older. But otherwise not much has changed at the road hockey courts after the three month off-season. And that could be cause for concern, as Sunday Morning Road Hockey embarks upon its 21st competitive season.

Only one goalie, Twizzler, suited up for Wednesday's special summer scrimmage, forcing the roadsters to play a modified game of half-court hockey, a game they'd become all too familiar with last season.

The retirement of erstwhile backup Cowboy Bill, the ongoing injury woes of Pig Farming Goalie, the reluctance of Nibs and the extended absence of Billy Idol has left the league with one consistent creaseminder. That resulted in the devolution of a record number of games last season to half-court exhibitions, and even threatened to cancel the season outright.

"It's worrisome," said Beetle Boy of the continuing goalie crisis after his team prevailed 10-9 in the mid-week warmup.

"There's a lot of uncertainty," said Unabomber. "It's always better when you have the same goalies."

And while the roadsters seem to have devised a workable solution to keep the games going with only one goalkeeper, there's no doubt their character changes, said Thelma.

"You can't cheer one save too well, because the next time it will be against you."

"You want to have your own goalie, you own team spirit," said Beetle Boy. "You want to play to win and when you're running back and forth and everyone is shooting on the same goalie it's definitely not as fun."

"It just doesn't have the same hockey flow," said Unabomber.

The half-court game also presents tactical challenges that can get the roadsters off their game.

"You've got to work on your breakout a lot more because you're always going to have equal coverage, you can't really create an odd man rush," said Thelma, whose speed advantage is largely negated on the reduced playing surface.

"There's probably a lot more running," said Unabomber.

"It's completely different, especially for positioning," said Beetle Boy. "It's about a quick transition game."

Working with the shifty Kid and the immovable Unabomber, Beetle Boy and his mates played a strong possession game and worked the transitions to their advantage to forge their comeback win in Wednesday's summer exhibition.

Twizzler also had a strong game for both teams, making a number of key saves even as the light faded.

Training camp officially opens with a one-game exhibition season Sept. 26. The regular season begins Oct. 3.

Posted by jaysuburb at 08:29 PM | Comments (12)

August 17, 2010

Summer scrimmage offers early test

The roadsters will get their first chance to test their off-season fitness at the Summer Scrimmage next Wednesday, Aug. 25, at 7 p.m.

The informal game will give players an indication of the work they'll need to do to prepare for training camp, which opens with a one-game exhibition season on Sept. 26. The regular season opens Sunday, Oct. 3.

Hopefully.

Because there are many uncertainties swirling around the future of Sunday Morning Road Hockey as the venerable league enters its 21st competitive season.

The ongoing goalie crisis which crippled a number of games last season, forcing the roadsters to invent rules variations to salvage games lacking netminders, appears to be worsening with the retirement of stalwart backup Cowboy Bill and nagging injuries to Pig Farming Goalie. The status of sometime shotstopper Billy Idol is also unknown. He was the collateral damage to Elvis' decision to boycott the season because of the new roughened surface on the hockey courts.

The roadsters will also be without the league's sole remaining founding father, the Living Legend, will miss three of the first four weeks of the regular season when he embarks on an overseas scouting mission.

That will leave the continuation of the games in the hands of its new generation of players. Scooby, Doo, Scrappy and Velma have developed into dedicated, committed players, but their young age leaves them prone to Saturday-night distractions like music and booze, often rendering them depleted or outright absent for Sunday's game.

Posted by jaysuburb at 06:51 PM | Comments (14)