October 30, 2016

Kid's crease comeback confounds combatants

It’s been so long since Kid last strapped on the goalie pads, he almost forgot how.

By the end of Sunday’s half-court game, the rest of the roadsters may have wished the comeback creaseminder wasn’t wearing any equipment at all as Kid made several stellar saves to rob scoring chances from both teams.

“I don’t think we got many rebounds,” said Bam Bam, whose side fought back from a three-goal deficit, squandered their own lead then won it 10-9 with a seeing-eye shot by Ohio in sudden death. “You’ve got to credit Kid; he kept us guessing.”

“He was moving well,” said Lak Attack. “He was picking up the shots and he was tracking well.”

Kid, who’s returned to the courts this season after a years-long hiatus, was a surprise starter. The upstart backstop said he couldn’t even remember the last time he’d played net.

That sent opposing forwards aquiver with anticipation of a prolific day.

“We knew we just had to get lots of shots, test him out,” said Bam Bam. “We tried that, created traffic, went for rebounds.”

“You’ve got to get lots of shots on him, challenge him early,” said Lak Attack. “You’ve got to let him know he’s not in for an easy game.”

Instead, it was those forwards who got a reality check.

The veteran lineup of Lak Attack, Colonel and Wink used their big shots to soften the neophyte netminder and establish an early advantage.

But Bam Bam and his mates used some ball luck and nifty passing to battle their way back.

“It’s all about momentum,” said the power forward. “I think we got some lucky breaks and momentum was on our side.”

That momentum, and some wearying veteran legs, forged them into a three-goal lead of their own.

“We lost our legs in that second half for a bit,” said Lak Attack of his side’s mid-game swoon.

But the underdogs were wary. They knew the veterans wouldn’t go quietly without a battle.

“With half-court games, you’ve just got to keep it close,” said Bam Bam. “We knew they were going to come back.”

The veterans battle back from a 9-6 deficit with three straight goals before Bam Bam redirected the Living Legend’s cross-crease pass right to the stick of Ohio, who buried it past Kid.

“it’s disappointing,” said Lak Attack of his side’s sudden setback. “We were close, but they buried their chances at the end.”

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October 16, 2016

Quick shots a winning recipe in regular season opener

Colonel’s languid attempt to wrap a shot around from the back of the net past Joker’s outstretched pad late in the game may have been the longest anyone on his team possessed the ball Sunday.

And while he didn’t score on that play, the wily veteran and his mates used quick crisp passes and timely shots to overwhelm their opponents 15-10 in Sunday’s regular season opener.

Playing without the benefit of a spare player to shift off for refreshed legs, Colonel and his mates kept the pressure on all game by keeping the evil orange plastic ball moving, even if their feet weren’t. That kept their opponents on the run, and Joker on his heels.

“Our passes were a little crisper, our shots were a little faster,” said Colonel. “Sometimes all you need is that extra split second and they go in as opposed to not going in.”

Joker admitted he had trouble tracking the ball at times as it moved quickly back and forth between the opposition’s stick blades.

“They were one-timing shots, and we were taking our time.”

The up-tempo playmaking was rewarded by a quick 5-2 advantage. But Colonel and his mates were wary to keep the pressure on.

“We came out pretty fast, but we learned pretty quick the game would go on for a while,” said the veteran centreman. “We had to keep our noses down and take chances when there were opportunities.”

Joker said his side’s man advantage may have kept their legs fitter but dulled their mental sharpness. Knowing they might be able to outlast their opponents in a longer game, played hung onto the ball, made the extra pass, moved the ball around the court more before taking a shot.

“We were taking our time,” said Joker. “We were accepting the pass and then setting up to shoot as opposed to shooting right away.”

That gave Lak Attack ample time to set up for saves. And, but for a brief lull in the second period, he was equal to the task.

That lull coincided with the underdog’s renewed effort sparked by Joker’s temper tirade after successive goals stretched the lead even further. Kid, Bam Bam and even a pair by the Living Legend pulled the underdogs to within a goal, 10-9, at the second break.

But that was as close as they got.

Sunday’s game was played on a slippery, wet court after a weekend of rain and wind. But the persistent drizzle and pools of water behind each goal was a fitting launch pad for the Sunday Morning Road Hockey ’s silver anniversary season. After all, the league has endured through all kinds of difficult weather over the years.
“After a weekend of torrential rain and wind, we’re all out here, sweeping the court, having a great time,” said the Colonel, who’s beginning his 18th season in the league. “It’s a great sense of community and camaraderie. People love the sport for the pure fun of it.”
Even newer players like Joker have quickly recognized and appreciated the unique qualities that have allowed the league to attain its milestone season.
“It’s the same group of guys that play hard every week,” said the seasoned shotstopper, embarking on his third campaign. “They know they can leave it all on the court at the end of the game.”

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October 09, 2016

Lak Attack's return to crease "like a magic trick"

Lak Attack hadn’t played net since February. Sunday, it was like he never left.

The journeyman veteran, who was usurped from his backup goaltending role when Twizzler returned for the second half of last season, reclaimed his place between the pipes with authority in the final tune-up for next Sunday’s regular season opener. He made numerous showstopping saves for both teams to force the half-court game into sudden death 7-6.

Afterward, Lak Attack said he was eager to make a big impression in his return to the net. He expects he’ll be called upon to strap the pads regularly as Twizzler’s status for the coming campaign is in doubt after he tweaked his injured knee late last season.

“It was a good tune-up for myself,” said Lak Attack. “I tried to stay closer to the net, use more economy of movement, cover my angles well.”

He did that and then some, after spotting a team of wily veterans including Wink, Living Legend, Colonel and Kid with an early lead.

“Lak is a big body in the net,” said Colonel. “His positional play was really good today. He made some good horizontal movement across his crease. He was tough to beat.”

Especially as Sunday’s game wore on. The veterans seemed to lose their touch around the acrobatic shotstopper while their opponents started to chip away at their deficit.

“When you’re out there in the half-court game, you’ve got to play the walls a lot more,” said Holt, who returned to the lineup after he missed most of last season to pursue educational opportunities.

With a little more overall speed and agility than their aging opponents Holt and his mates, Big D, Nouvelle Guy and Cleveland, started cashing in the opportunities they were able to create by forcing a fast transition from defence to offence.

“I think our legs just went away from us a little bit,” said Colonel, who was in the lineup for the first time Sunday. “People came to run.”

Still, both teams found it hard to solve Lak Attack.

“I started to get into a bit of a groove,” said the veteran backstopper. “The half-court game is always a bit different because guys get open more, the shots are quicker, so you just have to be prepared.”

“It was like a magic trick all day,” said Holt of the goaltender’s ability to make the evil orange plastic ball disappear into his equipment.

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October 02, 2016

A tale of two goalies: Dr. Joker and Mr. Hyde

Joker’s goaltending was a bit of a horror show on Sunday. Dr. Joker and Mr. Hyde to be precise.

The veteran shotstopper put in a schizophrenic performance in a pair of half-court games to kick off training camp for Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s silver anniversary season. He could barely stop a beach ball en route to a 10-2 rout in the first game. But after stripping down his cumbersome jersey he was lights out in the second to lead his side to a 5-1 win.

The contrasting contests weren’t lost on Joker.

“The first game I just want to forget about,” said the beleaguered backstop. “I knew I was going to play better in the second game.”

Indeed he did. While rebounds eluded him easily in the opener, he hoovered them in the follow-up. That frustrated shooters who’d thought they’d have an easy start to the season.

“I think Joker did well at motivating himself and bouncing back in that second game,” said Bam Bam.

He could hardly do worse as Joker struggled to regain his touch for the evil orange plastic ball after a long, inactive off-season. Playing a half-court game that demanded his full attention on both teams proved too big a challenge.

“You’re doing twice the work while you’re getting rid of the cobwebs,” said Joker. “You have to stay focussed.”

But Joker shook off his slow start as easily as he shed his hockey jersey. Time and again he made multiple saves as defenders fatigued. And when a shot did elude him, he quickly bounced to his feet, prepared to face the next onslaught.

“If you let in a bad goal, you just have to stay focussed and bounce back,” said Joker.

Bam Bam said the offensive players wore down as the games wore on, their off-season sloth catching them out.

“You’ve always got to keep your legs moving,” said the feisty forward. “There’s no delaying anything in the half court game.”

Sunday’s pre-season games launched Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s silver anniversary. The quarter century will be celebrated with an open invitation to all roadsters from the past to show up for a game as well as blasts from the past on social media.

Early in Sunday’s first game, a bit of unfinished business from last season was concluded when Wink was presented with his first Wink Award. The special trophy is awarded to the roadster who plays with the most dedication and perseverance. It was inaugurated when Wink was forced to step away from the game he helped build to deal with a difficult health issue.
With his health now better, Wink was able to play his way back into the lineup regularly last season. So it was only fitting he should receive his namesake award.

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