November 28, 2010

Winning shouldn't come at any cost

The following is an editorial submitted by The Commissioner in light of Sunday's abrupt end to the game after a series of clashes between the Colonel and opponents from the other team.

Road hockey is a game of emotion.

It's fueled many a heroic comeback or unlikely upset. It's what makes the Stanley Stick championship series the season's highlight.

But when that emotion runs amok, it can hurt the game more than enliven it. That's what happened Sunday when rookie goaltender Chico stormed off the court after an exchange of stick chops with the Colonel just outside his crease. Enough was enough said the netminding newcomer; he'd seen similar melees up court with his teammates Nibs and Scooby and it was only a matter of time that all the stick swinging and pushing would lead to an injury.

One of the guiding principals of Sunday Morning Road Hockey has been the stick pull to decide the teams every week. It all but ensures any ill-will and animosity that develops during a game doesn't carry to the next because your enemy this week could be your linemate next week. For the most part, it's been a pretty successful formula; the league is in its 20th season.

It's only when that respect players have for each other breaks down the game disintegrates into acrimony and flared tempers.

Sunday Morning Road Hockey is only as strong as the desire of players to show up every week, to run around a little, whack the evil orange plastic ball around a while and survive unscathed to be able to do it all again the next week. When players feel imperiled because another player has let his emotions get the better of the respect he should have for his fellow players, the very future of the league is imperiled.

The game is a diversion, a couple of hours of escape from the day-to-day responsibilities all roadsters have to pay the mortgage, support their families, show up for work on Monday morning. It should never trump those responsibilities. Nor should any roadster let his desire to win trump the responsibility he should feel towards his fellow roadsters and to the ongoing health of the game.

Perhaps Sunday's sudden stoppage of the game should serve as a sobering reminder of its fragility; once players lose control of their emotions, and lose respect for their fellow players, the game loses a lot of its fun.

Winning at any cost isn't winning at all.

Before Sunday's game came to an abrupt halt, the Colonel and his side were forging in incredible comeback as they pulled to within a goal, 13-12, after being down by as many as five earlier. The Colonel himself was a sparkplug, with a pair of seeing-eye long shots that rifled past a chagrined Chico.
Meanwhile, Twizzler shut the door in the defensive end with a number of spectacular saves.
"We dug deep and Twizzler held strong," said Gump.
Scooby and his mates may have been on the ropes, but they weren't worried, said the feisty forward. Their sizable lead had made them lazy and complacent.
"We had too much time and we didn't know what to do with the ball," said Scooby. "We weren't finishing."
But he was confident that had the game continued, they would have been able to seal the deal.
"I'm not gonna say we were going to win the game, but the other team did have to score three more goals."

Posted by jaysuburb at 04:50 PM | Comments (3)

November 21, 2010

Kid sizzles on cold court

The court may have been frozen by an early blast of winter, but Kid's scoring touch was as hot as mid-July.

The diminutive speedster, who kicks his game up a notch when other roadsters are struggling with their footing, scored 13 goals Sunday to lead his undermanned team to a 15-10 win. He did it without help from his set-up man of the past three weeks, Lak Attack, whose stick was deposited at the opposite side of the court for the first time in a month.

Not that Kid's former linemate couldn't foresee what was in store.

"For most guys, (the slippery court) is a disadvantage except for one person and that's Kid," said Lak Attack prior to his side's drubbing. "He seems to really thrive in this environment."

Which was hostile to say the least.

For the earliest time in most roadsters' memory, they had to break out the shovels to chip and scrape a coating of snow and ice from the frosted concrete. It was also the first time in two seasons, after last year's mild winter spared the court of any significant snowfall.

That had some of the roadsters stepping gingerly as they reacquainted themselves with the measured style required to cope with the diminished traction.

"It becomes a game of positioning and making some good passes," said Lak Attack. "You've got to be a little more careful, especially on the first step which is when a lot of people tend to slip."

For some roadsters, the experience of the icy court was entirely new.

"It's going to be tough out there to keep the body going, especially if you've got a team that can really cycle the ball down low," said Chico, as he prepared for his first career start in winter conditions. "You're going to stand around a lot so it's tough to keep warm."

"You've got to slow it down a little, make sure of your footing," said Gump, who's played between the pipes in the cold weather plenty of times but was making his first start on offense on a slicked surface. "I'm sure I'm going to take a couple of spills, so it will be a little hard on the tailbone."

And on shins, toes and thighs as well, as the evil orange plastic ball hardens when the temperature plummets, rendering it a lethal, painful projectile.

"It does change the game a fair amount in terms of blocking shots," said Lak Attack. "You don't want to get in the way of hard shots because you know it's going to hurt."

But Chico refused to flinch.

"I think it's a bit of a myth that the colder weather makes the ball harder and more painful," said the rookie rearguard. "I think the guys out here really get behind the shot, and whether it's warm out or cold, it hurts."

Especially when that shooter is Kid.

Posted by jaysuburb at 07:24 PM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2010

No Hollywood ending for Gump's comeback

Just Gump's luck, the Hollywood script writers took Sunday off. So did his side's defense.

The veteran goaltender who's been spelled from the net through the season's opening weeks, reacquainted himself with the crease and heavy leg pads Sunday when rookie rearguard sensation Chico took the week off. But there was no dramatic matinee finish.

Instead Gump was inundated with a barrage of scoring opportunities as Lak Attack and Kid, teaming up for the third consecutive game, weaved offensive magic around and through flatfooted defenders. When the final credits rolled, Gump's team had succumbed 15-8.

For Gump, the game was truly a trial by fire.

"We were the underdogs today," said the senior shotstopper.

And his opponents were eager to strike the first match.

"He hasn't played in a while, and we were hoping for a bit of rust," said Lak Attack.

His mates were equally tentative.

"At the beginning of the game we tried to protect Gump a little bit," said Doo.

But Gump started like a well-oiled keeper, sliding deftly across the crease to nab shots and stifle set ups.

"You just want to bet back to basics," said Gump. "You got to slow the game down and keep an eye on all the passes coming across. They were making a lot of cross-crease passes and you just have to be there to block those shots."

It was only a matter of time, though, before Lak Attack and Kid found the net. After all they've had three games together to ferment their chemistry.

"I'd say this was one of our better lines with Bam Bam," said the veteran sniper. "We really rotated well, we tried to put the pressure on and sustain the constant pressure until they made mistakes."

Which, inevitably, they did.

"When you line up against those guys, you know you've got to run in both directions because they can also backcheck," said Doo. "You know you've got to have your legs and we didn't have that today."

Posted by jaysuburb at 07:29 PM | Comments (3)

November 07, 2010

Roadsters rally for hobbled Hall of Famer

It's been nearly two seasons since Notorious Gameshow Host Gone Bad Wink last unleashed his fearsome slap shot at the road hockey courts, but his work ethic and defensive commitment are felt every week.

So it's not surprising the roadsters are rallying around the fellow founding father as the Hall of Fame defenseman faces a major health challenge.

For 18 seasons Wink's lumbering presence patrolled the defensive zone, squeezing streaking forwards into the fence, clearing the way in front of his goaltender so he could see shots coming unimpeded and, when the opportunity presented itself, unleashing his booming slapper from the point to spark his side's offense.

"You never forget Wink, he added so much to the game," said Gump. "He added not just the toughness and the work ethic, and not only the big booming blast from the point but also a sense of fun, and that's what it's all about."

"For the guys who were around when he played he still has a big impact," said Unabomber. "Wink's been here since the beginning and his presence is really missed out here on the court."

Wink's career crossed generations for roadsters, all of whom feared his wrath or coveted his respect, depending on what side of the court they were playing on.

"I remember I played my first Stanley Stick against him and I was pretty much useless when he was out there because he had 50 or 60 pounds on me," said Scooby, who launched his road hockey career as Wink's was winding down. "Too much ball hockey is played without his kind of dimension."

"Wink was a guy you wanted to play with or against," said Colonel, who clashed numerous times with Wink as they battled for dominance in the slot. "When you showed up to the courts and you saw him here, you were happy he was here and you were happy you got to play with him."

News of Wink's current battle back to health hit the roadsters hard on Sunday.

"It's hard to kinda take that in this morning," said Lak Attack. "Wink is one of our favorite veterans who played for years and we just love him."

"It's hard to play hockey when you hear something like that," said Unabomber.

But they're also confident that the same spirit and determination that made Wink one of the most feared and respected roadsters, and that made him such a stalwart presence in the game through his long, illustrious career will carry him to a positive outcome.

"Wink is such a positive guy with such strength behind him," said the Colonel. "We know he'll do his best and work really hard to get better."

"He's a strong guy, he works hard," said Gump. "He'll fight it and we're all here for him."

"His strength and resiliency will help him," said Scooby. "I wish him all the best. I'm pretty confident he'll get through it."

The news of Wink's health crisis cast a bit of a pall over one of the most competitive games of the early season as a powerhouse side anchored by Kid and Lak Attack squandered a 13-9 lead to fall 20-15.
After bolting to a quick 4-0 lead, it seemed the dynamic duo and their mates would romp to an easy win. They built their advantage to 10-4, then 11-6 before coughing up a five goal run that turned the tide.
"We had that one period where they got a few lucky bounces and we just couldn't buy a break," said Unabomber. "That buried us right there."
For the second straight week, it was Doo who dominated the scoring, but a trio of goals by the Colonel, two of them long shots from his own goal line and a wrap around that just squeezed past Chico's pad were the back breakers.
"If you score on a long one, or on one that bounces around a little bit, they do break the spirit a bit," said the Colonel. "Ninety-five per cent of this game is mental, you've got to keep strong and when you do, good things happen."
While the Colonel's seeing eye goals may have been fatal, the losers were already on life support as their early advantage slipped away said Lak Attack.
"We tried to fight back, but they got some quick ones and that kind of buried us."
"I think we just let our foot off the gas a bit," said Unabomber.
That let down was all their opponents needed to take advantage and wrest control of the game, said Gump.
"We just buckled down a bit more. I thought we just outworked them and that was the difference."
The win was especially sweet for the Colonel, who publicly expressed his desire to face off and face down the challenge of playing against Kid and Lak Attack.
"It always nice to win when you come from behind," said the veteran forward.

Posted by jaysuburb at 06:47 PM | Comments (5)