April 22, 2012

Stanley Stick Game Two: One for all and all for win

Five goals from five different players in the first period set the tone and propelled Chico and his mates to a decisive 20-12 win Sunday and a sweep of the two-game Stanley Stick final.

It was, said the sophomore goalie who won his second championship in as many starts, a total team effort.

"We had a big shot, we had some snipers, we had a great effort backchecking for both games."

With offence coming from so many players, it made it difficult for the underdogs to key their defensive game.

"It wasn't like they had a lot of weapons, it's just that they meshed together pretty well and put forward a good team game," said the Colonel.

That full-on commitment made it difficult for the underdogs to generate much momentum, said Yak.

"It's tough when every guy on the court can score," said the rookie speedster who showed know lingering effects of the leg cramps that dogged him late in game one. "That kind of depth just carries you. It doesn't matter who's on, they always found a way to work with each other."

That because they made a concerted effort to communicate, said Franz Beckenbauer, letting teammates know who was open, where the ball needed to go.

"We talked about creating lots of pressure early on," said the Germanic centreman. "We didn't want to let them set up, we wanted to make them run it out and that paid off."

In spades, as his squad never trailed, although there were some tense glances when they seemed to flag midway through the game, and their lead diminished to 12-11.

That's when an electrifying glove save by Chico robbed Bing, who was parked unmolested at the top of the slot and ripped his shot straight into the goalie's waving big glove.

"I think that put me in a good zone," said Chico.

Refusing to give in to panic, his mates calmly regrouped and outscored the underdogs 8-1 the rest of the way.

"The nerves were jangling a bit," said Beckenbauer. "The chances were coming so it was only a matter of time before we closed it out."

The final score was pretty indicative of his team's effort, or lack thereof, said the Colonel.
"It made us feel like we were crap. I think it was clear they just wanted it more than we did. We just weren't good enough from the beginning."

Something Beckenbauer and his mates were quick to exploit, a they made a concerted effort to shut down the underdogs' cycle game from behind the net.

"As long as the defensive team keeps the front of the net blocked off it makes it tough for them to get anything going," said Beckenbauer.

"You need some big shots from the point, you need some pretty plays out front and anything less than a great complement of those things and you're a one-dimensional team," said the Colonel.

Franz Beckenbauer was named the winner of the Conn Stick Award as the series most valuable player. It wasn't an easy choice as no one player from the victors dominated the series.
But Beckenbauer was a physical presence in both games, made numerous big plays in the defensive zone and contributed some timely goals.

Bam Bam was presented the Wink Award for his dedication to the game and perseverance through the season.

The warm, humid conditions presented some unique challenges to finish a season that seemed to be played predominantly in rainy, cold weather. It was a test of patience with the soft, sticky ball and fitness for the wearying players.
"The weather played to the other team's benefit and we just couldn't get going," said the Colonel.
Having a younger, fitter lineup also helped, said Beckenbauer.
"I think we had a pretty fit team. About half way through we could see them drop off and our legs really started to come through."

This year's Stanley Stick champions are: Chico, Franz Beckenbauer, Doo, Holt Renfrew, Bam Bam, Living Legend and Gump, who missed Sunday's game.

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April 15, 2012

Stanley Stick Game One: Rolling to a comeback win

With his team down 10-4 and his goalie flailing Bam Bam sensed the panic setting in. He corralled Chico and settled him with some reassuring words, then he gathered his teammates and proposed rolling players rather than switching off two set lines.

It was the game's turning point.

Bam Bam and his mates scored six straight goals to power their way back to a 20-17 win in Sunday's opening game of the Stanley Stick championship series.

The importance of the pep talk and the critical strategic shift wasn't lost on Doo.

"When we had lines we believed in the formula," said the speedy winger who was playing only his fourth game of the season, barely qualifying for eligibility in the finale. "We thought the personnel would take care of it."

But they weren't. Time and again both lines were caught flat-footed or out of position as Yak and the Colonel launched rapier shots over Chico's shoulders and between his pads and the goal posts.

"We needed to focus on getting the Colonel's booming shot tamed and to make them start turning the ball over," said Chico, who's trying to reprise the title he won in his rookie season.

"Chico knows he's a good goalie, and we knew we just had to get sticks in the lanes," said Doo.

Changing the mix of players seemed to do the trick, confusing opposing defenders and invigorating newfound linemates.

"The first half of the game we were in a routine and we were able to match up really well against what they were playing," said the Colonel of his side's early dominance. But when the lines started rolling, "it took some time to adjust to all the different players that could be out there."

"I think you started seeing some chemistry with some guys playing together who were separated initially," said Chico.

"When we realized the lines weren't doing anything, we knew we had to start running," said Doo.

Having tied the game at 10 though, they weren't able to take their first lead until 16-15 as the Colonel and his shellshocked teammates refused to roll over.

"It was pretty much a coin toss," said Doo.

"We started looking for the pretty plays and in a game this intense, this physical, this emotionally demanding, you can't do that," said Chico. "You can't let up and look for the easy one."

But when calf cramps sidelined Yak and hobbled Weeble and Bing was forced to leave early by family commitments, the end result seemed inevitable.

"I think them losing two guys really cost them," said Doo. "We did have to find the killer instinct because they gave us all we could handle at the end, but it was just too much for them."

Despite losing a game they seemed to have well in hand, the Colonel remains confident his side has the horses to force a decisive mini-game after they tie the series next week.
"I think this was a good game to learn a little bit about what we're capable of," said the feisty forward. "Sometimes it's good to go through a little adversity early on."
But their opponents were also taking notes.
"We gotta bring the work ethic we found in the middle of this game and not let down," said Doo.

Each team will play with one less player in next week's finale, as Weeble and Gump will be pre-announced scratches.

Posted by jaysuburb at 10:13 PM | Comments (6)

April 08, 2012

Stanley Stick preview: Maintaining their edge

Next week's Stanley Stick will be unlike any other.

A number of veterans have retired or haven't played enough games to retain their eligibility for the championship series while a handful of rookies will get their first taste of the finale's pressure-cooker atmosphere.

That's given an air of unpredictability to the two-game climax to name a champion to Sunday Morning Road Hockey's 20th season.

"This year we've got a little more unknown," said the Colonel. "With veteran guys you know their strengths and weaknesses so you can focus on that. We've got a great group of young guys so it's an opportunity for them to show what they're really made of."

But sophomore shotstopper Chico expects the intensity to be as high as it's ever been.
"Everyone has got their game faces on, they've all come to play."

One of those players looking to take his game to a new level will be Doo, who only earned his right to play in the championship by playing in this week's half-court prelude. The veteran member of the prolific Scooby gang, who dominated the league for much of the past five seasons, has seen his coterie of cartoon cohorts decimated by defections. Scrappy and Velma didn't play at all this season and Scooby played only a handful of games before traveling to a faraway land. Doo himself was distracted for most of the season.

HIs return to action hasn't gone as easily as he'd hoped as he's struggled to find the moves that made him one of Sunday Morning Road Hockey's most explosive scorers.

"The timing is off, it seems a little slower," said Doo. "When you've been playing all season you can kinda slow the game down and see it a bit better."

With the final game of the regular season falling on Easter Sunday, only a handful of roadsters reported to work out the kinks in preparation for next week's hostilities.

"I think you're just trying to prep on the fundamentals, staying strong on the net, battling through screens," said Chico.

"People are running around a bit and getting their hand-eye accuracy down," said the Colonel.

"Really, today was all about preparation and getting my game back," said Doo.

Among the veterans who won't be eligible to play in this year's Stanley Stick are Unabomber, Kid, Nibs, Scrappy, Velma, Pig Farming Goalie, ER, Louis, Oil Can.
Rookies who are eligible include Franz Beckenbauer, Bing, Holt Renfrew, Gap, Yak, Weeble.
Beetle Boy announced this week he will not be playing in this year's Stanley Stick. Giebelhaus also will not play while Beckenbauer and Weeble can commit to only one of the two games.
Gump, who missed most of the season due to knee surgery, has been given a special goalie's dispensation. He's already announced he's only available for one game.
A question mark continues to hang over the second goaltending position as veteran netminder Twizzler seems to pulling his usual late-season disappearing act; he missed the last two of the last three games of the regular season.

Posted by jaysuburb at 07:10 PM | Comments (9)

April 01, 2012

Doo kept in check

Doo's comeback started with a bang, but ended with a whimper.

The speedy scorer struggled to find his offensive game, and while his teammates waited for Doo to alight, they squandered an early 6-1 advantage to lose Sunday's game 19-12.

"That touch takes a long time to come back," said Doo who found the net twice but was largely kept in check by tight coverage from defenders and resilient goaltending by a revived Gump. who overcame his shaky start.

"I think I got into his head to shut him down," said the seasoned shotstopper, who was playing his second game since returning from knee surgery. "If you can take away his wheelhouse he gets frustrated and he starts shooting more into the body."

"With a shooter like that, you've always got to get your stick in front of him when he's in the passing and shooting lanes," said Bam Bam. "We put a guy on him right away and we were able to shut him down."

And with Doo neutralized, the rest of his team struggled.

"I think we all stopped running," said Doo.

Their early advantage may also have been a disadvantage, as they seemed to let off the gas just as the bounces stopped coming their way.

"It was a little bit of hubris," said Doo. We were confident. We thought it was going to be easy."

Despite the early hole, their opponents weren't out of the game. Especially with their lineup of powerhouse scorers that included Holt, who scored at will last week, and Bing, who's shown a knack for the net in his fledgling career at the courts.

"We knew we were going to get our goals with the lineup we had today," said Bam Bam. "We didn't get down on ourselves early on."

With the luxury of two full lines, they also had the opportunity to create chemistry, Their cup quickly ran over.

"Chemistry was huge," said Bam Bam. "Rolling two lines, you're more fresh, you've got more energy and you're not afraid to try things in the offensive end because you've got more speed coming back on the backcheck."

Meanwhile, Doo and his mates flailed about as passes hopped over sticks and scoring opportunities were smothered by an invigorated Gump.

"I just had to settle in and get some confidence," said the veteran shotstopper. "It was just back to basics hockey, take care of your own part of the game and the team do their part."

That included scoring seven straight goals wrest the lead for the first time in the game, a shocking comeback from which their opponents never recovered.

"We had nothing left," said Doo. "We thought we had it in the bag and we lost belief."

Posted by jaysuburb at 05:02 PM | Comments (12)