March 27, 2016

Lack of luxuries give game mystique

Even as Lak Attack’s stick blade delaminated to half its usual width, he kept firing shots with the rattling, flacid impliment in warmup.

Good thing he was playing net.

Not that his goalie equipment was in any better condition.

Haphazard gear that’s held together with thread and tape, sticks that are peeling and gloves and shoes full of holes are part of Sunday Morning Road Hockey tradition.

But what the game lacks in luxury, it compensates with character.

“There’s no pretence in Sunday Morning Road Hockey,” said Doo, who’s shaved many a blade to toothpick width over his long career with barely an effect on his offensive capabilities. “If you’ve got a stick that you can’t even see the blade, then you just play with it.”

Goalies are particularly skilled with tape and thread to keep their equipment functional, if not exactly stylish.

“You do your best,” said Lak Attack, who suited up for Sunday’s half-court game wearing a protective cup on its last thread, literally. “You put some string in, or a little bit of tape, and you’re good to go.”

His second-hand pads also left something to be desired; leg guards flapped loosely because of missing straps or buckles, the thick rolls didn’t mesh properly, leaving a gaping five hole as a target for eagle-eyed forwards.

“If you’re a shooter, you have the luxury of picking your spots,” said Doo.

“It’s challenging every week,” said Lak Attack, who recovered from some early miscues Sunday to shut out one side through the game’s second half. “Somehow you have to perform above what you’re really capable of given the gear.”

Doo said broken down goalie gear is part of the game’s mystique.

“The goalies play with whatever they have, it’s part of the experience.”

That tradition of resilience was forged in Sunday Morning’s earliest days, when legendary Goaltending Stalwart Wawrow faced down some of his era’s fiercest shooters without the protection of heavy leg pads or even a mask for much of his career. That formative era was followed by Couch, who fashioned his leg pads from thick pieces of furniture foam.

“It adds character to the game,” said Lak Attack. “It wasn’t built from equipment, it was built from the players who played, and we continue that tradition.”

“We don’t have many luxuries out here,” said Doo. “There’s kind of a shared bond because nobody shows up with shiny new equipment.”

Posted by jaysuburb at 08:27 PM | Comments (4)

March 20, 2016

Sunday's win a long shot

Wink’s long sizzler that eluded Colonel’s flailing glove hand was a fitting winner for his side’s sudden-death 10-9 victory in Sunday’s game.

The distance shot had vexed the netminders all day.

“For a goalie who doesn’t play very much, the long shot tends to move a lot,” said Colonel, who stepped between the pipes when regular back-up Lak Attack was a surprise scratch. “The ball dips away and you’re just not used to that curl.”

His opponents had used the long shot to build a 6-3 lead, five of those goals by opportunist Doo, who pounced on rebounds or zeroed his sights on Colonel’s gaping five-hole.

“From our perspective, we just had to get a lot of low shots on net, get some bodies in front and take advantage of rebounds,” said Doo.

But when his mates started to get fancy, stretching for the extra pass instead of putting shots on net, the game’s momentum shifted and their three goal advantage disappeared.

“There were definitely some ebbs and flows to the game,” said Colonel as his mates used their own pinpoint shots to wrest an 8-6 lead.

“Everybody has such a quick release,” said Joker. “They can shoot the big bombs but they also get them off really quickly and that can be tough for a goalie to deal with.”

Doo said his own goalie’s struggle with long shots was a bit of a wakeup call to tighten up defensively.

“When you haven’t got any spares, you can’t play hard every minute,” said the speedy centreman. “You’re going to give up some chances and that’s when you’ve got to rely on your goalie.”

They also got back to the game that had put them in the lead initially, peppering shots at the net.

“We didn’t have to make the one extra pass,” said Joker. “Once we started shooting, it started going in.”

Posted by jaysuburb at 03:52 PM | Comments (6)

March 13, 2016

Hard work reaps reward in half court game

Road hockey rewards hard work. Especially in the half-court game, said veteran utility forward and backup goaltender Lak Attack.

Sunday’s winners used their work ethic at both ends of the court to turn an early 2-0 deficit into a 10-7 victory.

“They worked hard and because of that they were able to get the breaks,” said Lak Attack, who minded the crease for both sides.

After spotting their opponents, Cleveland and Wink, a quick advantage, Beelzebub and his teammate Living Legend got to work. They forechecked aggressively on changes of possession, dug hard in the corners, hustled after stray balls. Their effort paid off with three straight goals and they never looked back.

“You’ve gotta work through it and persevere,” said Beelzebub of his side’s slow start.

A seeing-eye backhand by the Living Legend that found its way through the smallest of gaps on Lak Attack’s short side may have been an early backbreaker. Legend created the scoring opportunity by battling for the ball off the boards.

“When either team gets an opportunity, they have to take the time to be patient,” said Lak Attack. “They have to wait for the goalie to make the first move.”

Once they moved ahead, the winners never took their foot off the gas, pressuring Wink and Cleveland almost every rush off the change of possession. Beelzebub was especially persistent, pestering the oncoming forwards into making mistakes that resulted in turnovers.

“Defence usually gets a bad rap in this game,” said Beelzebub. “But it’s just as important as offence, even more so in a game like today.”

That’s because with only two players aside, any defensive lapse instantly created an odd-man rush.

“It’s a slower game,” said Lak Attack. “But you’ve got to be alert at all times because the bounces can come from anywhere.”

And while the intensity of Sunday’s game may not have matched the fierce pace of recent matches with better attendance, the stakes were just as high as the season heads into the home stretch toward the Stanley Stick championship finale.

“You’ve got to go out there an give it your all, no matter if it’s full court or half court,” said Beelzebub.

Posted by jaysuburb at 08:19 PM | Comments (2)