April 28, 2013

Stanley Stick a fight for survival

Colonel may have won the battle, but there was no doubt he had been in a war.

After romping to a 20-11 win in last week's soggy opener, the feisty veteran and his mates were confident heading into Sunday's second game. But after opening the scoring with three straight goals they were pushed to their physical and mental limit, taking more than three hours to grind out a 20-17 win.

When Weeble tipped home a seeing eye blast off the Colonel's stick, they barely had the energy to celebrate.

They didn't so much win the Stanley Stick as survive it.

"They just kept coming," said the Colonel, as he savoured his first title in five years. "We had a lot of confidence we were going to prevail, but they just didn't give up."

"They gave us everything we could handle," said Doo. "They gave us everything they had until the end."

A goal by the Living Legend, his first in the series, seemed to spark the underdogs' belief they were worthy competitors.

"That galvanized us to believe that this was the only chance we've got," said Yak of his team's doggedness. "We've got all the tools we needed, it was just a matter of effort."

But no amount of heart and determination could stanch the wheeling offensive power of Doo, who piloted the transition game, and Colonel, who scored 10 times for the second week in a row, while Lak Attack was a stalwart on defence. Time and again they reestablished their three-goal margin. Time and again the underdogs battled back to within one.

"We really wanted to open a big lead, but it just didn't happen," said Colonel. "Once you start to believe in yourselves, then anything can happen."

"We had to grind out every single goal," said Doo. "We had to work our asses off."
Which was a small consolation to the losers, as they watched the subdued celebration of the champions.

"It was really even and hard fought," said Yak. "It really boils down to executing right from the get-go, and we just took a little longer to get going."

"Nobody had anything left in the tank at the end of the game," said Doo. "The relief was huge."

Lak Attack was voted the winner of the Conn Stick award as the championship's most valuable player.
"He was able to keep the pace of the game in their favor," said Yak. "You know you're going to have to stay honest the whole time he's out there."
The veteran centerman was also recognized with his selfless contribution through the regular season when he strapped on the goalie pads week after week to ensure games could be played as regular starters Chico and Twizzler worked through injuries.

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April 21, 2013

Weather twist fails to turn tide

Even an unexpected twist in the weather couldn't steer Colonel and his mates from taking the first game of the Stanley Stick championship with a decisive 20-11 win on Sunday.

While the dry cool conditions at the opening face-off allowed Colonel, Doo, Lak Attack and Bam Bam to use their skill and speed to build a big lead, a sudden cold deluge that even included a few snowflakes sparked their opponents to a goal burst that got them close. But not close enough.

"Our main objective was to get lots of shots and take advantage of scoring opportunities and that's what we did," said Colonel, who contributed half his side's offence. "We ran hard, moved the ball around and got lots of shots on net quickly."

It was all too much for the overmatched underdogs, who were hobbled by lingering injuries to Yak and the Living Legend. They fell behind by as many as eight. Only some outstanding saves by Chico kept their hope alive.

"We just didn't play very good sound fundamental defence," said Chico. "We didn't lose this game on offence, we lost it on defence."

"We were trying to play a man-on-man defence but they were really good at hitting the guy right when he started moving," said Yak, who was slowed by a sore back. "Their passing was really quick and that made a huge difference."

Until the rain and wind started.

With the speed advantage of Lak Attack, Doo and Bam Bam neutralized by the rain-slicked concrete, the underdogs got renewed life with three straight goals that got them within four.

"With people sitting around, it took awhile to adjust to the weather," said Colonel. "I think people's energy level dropped."

Playing with renewed confidence, the underdogs, led by Scooby's sure footing in the treacherous conditions, pressed to get even closer.

"We needed a few successes to convince ourselves that we could do it," said Yak.

As the conditions deteriorated further, the game slowed to a cautious crawl. That gave the Colonel and his mates the respite they needed to regroup and refocus.

"You forget about the rain and try to play like you normally do," said Colonel. "Everything comes from that."

"When it came down to a grinding, mucking game, with that big lead it was very difficult to chip away at it," said Chico, whose side must now win next week's finale to force a decisive mini game.

It's a tall order, said Yak. But not impossible.

"We have everything we need to win the game," said Yak. "I think we're going to have to go back to basics."

"It's all about commitment," said Chico. "We've got to make that effort coming back."

Colonel and his mates are ready.

"The only game that's more important than the first game is the second one," said the veteran centerman.

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April 14, 2013

Lak goes on attack

Goaltending is always key to the Stanley Stick.

But next week, it's who won't be strapping on the pads that could end up making the difference.

Lak Attack got one of his rare opportunities to air out his legs Sunday after playing goalie most of the season as regular starters Chico and Twizzler battled injuries. Even as one of the game's most senior players he showed why he's a decisive force when championship bragging rights are on the line as he led his side to a 16-10 win in the final tune-up before the two-game finale.

"Even when he doesn't try, Lak Attack is still working harder than every other person on the court," said Yak. "He just ups the tempo of the whole game and everybody else has to run harder."

"He's one of the best conditioned guys out there," said Bam Bam. "You've just got to take into consideration that he's going to go around you all the time. You've just got to keep an eye on him."

That's easier said than done, as time and again Sunday Lak Attack drove hard to the net, or looped back to the point to pilot a give-and-go offence. Liberated from his goaltending duties, he made the most of his freewheeling style.

"It's nice to get out there and work on my timing," said Lak Attack. "There's more opportunities created by speed."

It was that speed and skill advantage that catapulted his side to a lead they never relinquished and made scoring heroes of the recipients of his pinpoint passing and knack for attracting desperate defenders. Living Legend, back in the lineup after missing last week's game, scored five times, all of them on defensive breakdowns that left him uncovered.

"If you're playing against Lak, you've got to control the space," said Yak. "If you're chasing him around he'll beat you."

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April 07, 2013

Giebelhaus better late than never

In Sunday Morning Road Hockey, a tie is like watching Weeble and Giebelhaus make out after a night drinking growlers of cheap beer.

Disappointing to say the least.

Sunday, the two rivals led their teams… absolutely nowhere, as the game ended in a 12-12 stalemate when Lak Attack announced his punctual departure at 12:30 p.m.

Giebelhaus' steamroller antics in tight and eclipsing of the goalie's line of sight time and again embarked his side on the comeback trail from an 8-5 deficit when he was injected into the lineup. A save by Chico on a penalty shot awarded Holt after Colonel threw his stick to break up a scoring opportunity further fired up the underdogs as they closed to within a goal and then traded scores.

Weeble's high blast over Chico's trapper seemed to snap the pattern by opening up a two-goal margin.

But with Giebelhaus clogging the crease, Bam Bam was able to rip a pair that caught Lak Attack by surprise, knotting the score at a dozen each.

The keepers then kept it that way through the game's dying moments.

"That's it," said the Colonel as the teams trudged off the soggy court, each unsated by the lack of an outcome. "I've got to live with this until next week."

With files from Chico

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