October 30, 2011

Turning the tide

Taking advantage of a green goaltender, Doo and his mates rolled to an easy 16-10 lead, then almost let it slip away. But a timely goal by the skilled speedster with the margin down to two propelled his side to a decisive 20-14 win in Sunday's game.

Led by Franz Beckenbauer's adept touch around the net and knack for knocking bouncing balls out of mid air, the favourites seemed to have the first rainy game of the season well in hand. The Colonel, making his first start between the pipes last year, replacing the absent Chico, seemed bamboozled by rebounds rolling at his feet, overwhelmed by the shots raining in on him. Lapses by his defense frustrated him.

"We got a lot of friendly bounces early on," said Beckenbauer, who scored a handful of seemingly improbable goals to stake his side to an enormous edge on the scoreboard, including a 5-1 run in the second period. "We got lots of shots, got traffic in front of the net, and just banged it around at the goalie's feet."

"We were getting to the loose balls real quick," said Bam Bam, of his team's total control of the game's early periods. "With a new goalie you just try to get as many shots early, and I think we did that pretty well."

But just as his side was starting to think of a possible road hockey shutout for their goalie, Twizzler, who has yet to lose in three starts this season, the wheels started to come off. Four straight goals swung the momentum to the underdogs, and they were hungry for more, pressing in the offensive zone relentlessly.

"We saw it coming," said Doo. "They started playing harder, they started coming on."

"Once we got the scoring advantage, I think we just let up," said Bam Bam. "We weren't running, we weren't going for loose balls, we were using our teammates as passing options, we were all trying to do it ourselves."

But it was a determined solo effort by Doo that reversed the trend, as he chopped a breakaway goal past Colonel's glove, to spark four unanswered goals to close out the victory.

"We really needed a big goal to get our heads back in the game, " said Doo of his determined effort. "We had to step it up a bit, but we couldn't get anything done because of our sense of panic. That goal calmed us down a bit."

"They had a run going on and the first thing you have to do is put an end to it, dampen their spirits," said Beckenbauer.

"Obviously we didn't play our A game,"' said Bam Bam. "Doo kinda rallied us back into it."

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October 23, 2011

Doo-bleheader victories

Doo just wanted to ease himself into his first game after a summer of sloth. Instead, he may have established himself as the go-to back up goaltender.

The diminutive substitute, who strapped on the pads when Twizzler scratched with the flu, won both games in Sunday's regular season opening doubleheader, 15-5 and 10-8. It wasn't the script the offensive speedster had anticipated for his debut. Normally a play-making dynamo with a knack for timely goals, Doo conceded his lack of fitness motivated him to climb between the pipes.

"My cardio was way down in the dumps," said Doo. "You don't have to be in as good shape playing goal."

But in the close confines of the road hockey courts, you do have to be sharp. And Doo was, making a few key stops to win the confidence of his teammates, who went on to easily win Sunday's first game.

"After a few shots, it was pretty clear he was on top of his game," said Yak, making his second career Sunday Morning start. "If you have faith in your goalie you put three guys on the ball and get aggressive in the offensive zone. You know if you give one up, you've got a good chance you'll get a save and get the ball back."

The quick start was key said Doo. It allowed him to find his rhythm.

"After the first goal gets by you, you start doubting yourself," said the substitute shotstopper. "Fortunately our team put a few up before they could get one by me, so we could coast to the end."

The second game proved a little tougher. After the Living Legend put his side up early, the Colonel found his range and his mates Franz Beckenbauer, Holt Renfrew and Giebelhaus found their scoring touch. A three-goal run put Doo down for the first time.

"I was facing Franz and that was the game-changer," said Doo. "When he's on the other team you've really got to watch out for him."

In fact, Beckenbauer was a force in both games, bringing out the best in his linemates. He was unfazed when those linemates changed for Sunday's second game.

"When you play in the league for a couple of years, you get to know people's strengths, you know if you have a running team or a shooting team," said Beckenbauer. "You just have to understand your teammates."

But his side couldn't hang on, as Yak combined with Bam Bam to spark a late comeback, capped by the Living Legend's game winner on a scramble in front of a sprawling Chico.

"You've got to stick to the game plan, stick to your man, work hard and hopefully you get a few bounces come your way," said Yak.

"It was good that my team played well in front of me," said Doo.

Chico announced he'll miss next week's game as he's going to be out of town. It will also give him another week to recover from an apparent concussion he suffered when he took a Unabomber snapshot off the mask in last Sunday's Wink Classic.
The sophomore shotstopper said he was afflicted with a severe headache and nausea after last week's game. When it persisted into Monday, he stopped by a hospital where he was diagnosed with a low-grade concussion. The symptoms subsided as the week progressed, allowing him to play in Sunday's regular season opener.

Posted by jaysuburb at 04:33 PM | Comments (3)

October 16, 2011

A Classic goaltenders' duel

During his 18 year road hockey career, Wink never shied away from the rough stuff. His stalwart defensive play was often punctuated by pile drive hits into the boards, or two-armed muggings at the top of the crease.

So it was fitting that Sunday's Wink Classic ended in thuggery and acrimony.

Moments after Chico ended up under a pile of players in his goal crease put there by the Colonel, he stormed out of the game to protest the feisty forward's apparent cross check of his teammate Franz Beckenbauer. It's the second time the shotstopping sophomore has emphatically protested his arch-nemisis' aggressive play.

It all brought back memories back for Wink, who watched Sunday's game from a chair in his driveway.

"My career was kinda embroiled in controversy and bodies strewn on the court," said Wink of the special game, which was played on the road in front of his to honour his career and difficult retirement which has been punctuated by health issues. "I felt it was kind of an ode to me and that was pretty exciting."

The Wink Classic was old time road hockey in every sense. Away from the enclosed confines of the court, the roadsters were free to roam the wide street and flanking sidewalks and lawns. They battled rough and potholed pavement, paused for passing cars and tempered their shots so the game wouldn't be delayed by long waits to fetch wayward balls.

"It's right back to where you started, it's why you play the game," said Chico. "I think the first time the guys yelled car, it gave you a little shiver. It was very sentimental."

"It took me back to elementary school, playing on the sidewalk, trying to get around guys," said Scooby.

"It reminds you that we're here to have fun," said Unabomber. "It brings out the spirit of the game, that we're all here to get some exercise, some fresh air and have some fun."

"It's old school to get out there and see where the sticks come out," said Wink. "The guy you like this week might be the guy you hate next week and you think all week about how much you hate that guy. It really felt like an old-time game."

As forwards stubbled to control the evil orange plastic ball on the rough road, the goalies controlled the game. Twizzler prevailed in a 4-3 win, the lowest scoring game in Sunday Morning history.

"Twzzler is a great goalie and a big guy, so he didn't need much movement," said Scooby. "There was no space in the net to shoot at."

"You couldn't see any net when you were in close," said Unabomber. "We had to rely on rebounds and garbage goals and a whole lot of bounces."

"The ball was bouncing all over the place, but I think the goalies were a bit ahead of the curve," said Chico. "Twizzler robbed us point blank six, seven, eight times, he made great glove hand stops, a couple of desperation saves."

The Wink Classic also marked the 20th anniversary of Sunday Morning Road Hockey. Playing on the open road was a fitting tribute to the game's roots, said the day's guest of honour, Wink.
"Back when men were men and Wendel was nervous, guys played like it mattered," said the notorious gameshow host gone bad.
It also rekindled his own passion that had fuelled his career for 18 seasons.
"I didn't realize who tough it was to be away from the game until today," said Wink. "A couple of times guys came by and I whacked 'em with my cane just like the old days. It brought back memories."

Three rookies suited up for Sunday's Wink Classic. But the turnout from the game's alumni was woefully disappointing as only Wendel made it to the special game.

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October 15, 2011

Classic honors anniversary and founding father

There won't be any end boards to keep in play shots that go wide of the net. If Unabomber misses one of his patented wild boomers, it might take a week for the roadsters to chase down the ball.

Traffic will be a hazard. And so will indignant neighbours.

Sunday Morning Road Hockey is going back to its roots, the road.

The Wink Classic will be played Sunday at Edinburgh and Henley Streets in New West to mark the league's 20th anniversary and to honour one of its founding fathers, Notorious Gameshow Host Gone Bad Wink.

The irascible defenseman, who retired more than two years ago, has been battling health problems for much of the past year. But his dedication, commitment and passion that marked his career continue to be a driving force in the weekly battles for control of the evil orange plastic ball. So much so, the league minted a trophy, the Wink Award, that is presented to the player recognized for his dedication and perseverance.

The roadster will gather 10:15 a.m. at Edinburgh and 10th Streets on Sunday, then move en masse to play the special game in front of Wink's house.

Posted by jaysuburb at 08:26 PM | Comments (1)

October 09, 2011

The early advantage

Shaking off the rust of a languid off-season is easier for some players than others.

Sunday, in the first exhibition game of the season, the goalies held the early advantage until the skilled speedsters were able to find their legs and their touch around the net.

Franz Beckenbauer picked up where he left off last season, Bam Bam showed no lingering effects of the injuries that kept him from last Spring's Stanley Stick finale, and retread roadster Giebelhaus had a deft touch around the crease to power their undermanned squad to a 15-11 win.

But it took some time for them to get on track.

Early on, it was the goalies who dictated the pace, shutting down the few offensive plays that actually clicked as players struggled to find their timing.

"The timing takes a little while to come back," said sophomore shotstopper Chico. "I think the goalies have a bit of an advantage as the rest of the players haven't quite go their legs yet."

Some of the players were also hobbled by their lack of game fitness.

"I think the major thing the players lose in the off season is the card," said Franz Beckenbauer. "The goalies don't need that as much, their reflexes come back a lot quicker so they definitely have the upper hand."

But it didn't last.

The scorers took over as Lak Attack found his wheels, Bam Bam, refreshed and rehabbed, battled the boards, Scooby swooped through the middle of the court with mid-season determination.

"Fitness is a big factor in terms of coming into the season in shape and ready to go," said Lak Attack. "You have to be ready to go so you can run with these guys, but more importantly, you've got to understand where to be positionally, how to set up your guys and make sure you play as a team."

"The players have a lot of skill, their hand-eye co-ordination hasn't left them," said Chico, last year's rookie of the year.

Pacing was the key, said Franz Beckenbauer, as players adjusted to the game's speed and the rapid transitions from defence to offence.

"You're really got to be strategic, look for the counter attack," said the second-year forward. "You don't want to blow a gasket so early in the season."

It's also important to keep expectations realistic this early on, said Chico.
"We're not going to play at the same pace we did at the Stanley Stick. It's going to take the teams a little while to gel, and it's going to take the goalies a while to adjust to the pace."

roadhockey.net has learned veteran utility player Gump may be lost for most of the season as he prepares to undergo surgery to his damaged knee. The yeoman forward and backup goaltender was hoping to rehab his sore knee into game shape through the summer, but a further medical assessment recommended more extensive repairs would be needed.

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October 05, 2011

Preseason opens Sunday

Training camp for Sunday Morning Road Hockey's 20th anniversary year opens Sunday at the courts.
Energized by the infusion of new players like Chico, Bam Bam and Franz Beckenbauer, it was the league's wiliest veteran and fellow founding father, the Living Legend, who put the exclamation mark on its 19th season by leading his squad to a two-game sweep of the Stanley Stick championship series.
He'll be back, vying to become the first roadster to have his career span four decades. But a disappointing turnout at the annual Midsummer Scrimmage and an otherwise quiet off-season have left lingering questions about the league's on-going viability. Hopefully some of those will start to get answered at Sunday's first exhibition game.

Posted by jaysuburb at 07:50 AM | Comments (6)