April 29, 2018

Joker's tantrum clouds soggy Stick opener

Emotions boiled over early in Sunday’s Stanley Stick opener and an outburst may have cost one team their chance for victory as they succumbed 15-7.

Joker stormed off the court with the score tied 3-3 in a hard-fought first period after a pair of incidents involving Colonel and Velma. The fiery shotstopper declared he could no longer abide his teammate’s aggressive play, pulled off his big leg pads and went home.

Lak Attack was also riled and headed for his car. For a few tense moments, the championship series, and possibly the entire future of Sunday Morning Road Hockey, hung in the balance.

Roadside diplomacy between Colonel and Lak Attack brought the veteran forward back to the court, but Joker was long gone.

With his team now down its spare player, Colonel strapped on the leg pads to take over crease minding duties. The very occasional goalie who last went between the pipes last season was quickly overwhelmed by the offensive speed and opportunism of Doo, Velma and Lak Attack, while Living Legend prowled the perimeter to tip home a couple of garbage goals.

Lak Attack said Joker’s departure denigrated what was shaping up to be a classic match-up of a pair of balanced teams.

“I think it would have been tight all the way through.”

Scooby said Joker’s tantrum caught everyone off guard.

“I was hoping cooler heads would prevail,” he said. “That would have made a huge difference in the game.”

Velma said even though his team was able to take advantage of the shocking turn of events, their inexorable roll to victory took some of the lustre of their lead in the two-game championship series.

“It felt more like a scrimmage than the Stanley Stick,” he said.

The trouble started when a crease clash between Colonel and Velma sent the latter into his goalie, Kid, negating an apparent goal because of goaltender interference.

Moments later Colonel, still steaming from the decision to nullify the goal, rubbed his nemesis into the side fence after Velma cleared the ball up the court.

“Things were getting chippy,” said Scooby.

Velma said Joker’s outburst wasn’t a total surprise, as the veteran goalkeeper has a tendency to wear his intensity on his sleeve, sometimes letting it get the better of him.

“Joker is an emotional guy,” he said. “It sucks that he went off and left us without a good game.”

While Colonel struggled in his initial moments between the pipes, he settled down. But the damage had been done.

“When they got up by three or four goals, that’s when it really gets tough,” Scooby said.

It’s unclear whether Joker will return next week. But with Velma doubtful, his mates are tempering their optimism about their one-game advantage.

“We needed the victory today,” Lak Attack said. “Next week we’ll have to regroup. We just have to show up and work hard.”

Scooby said his side will have no choice but to force the play in the offensive zone, no matter who’s minding their net.

“We’ve definitely got to get more going offensively on Kid,” he said.

It's been more than 10 years since a Stanley Stick game was played in the rain; that was in the second game of the 2006-07 finale.
The precipitation made the court especially slippery, slowing the game's pace and preventing players from turning quickly on transitions.
"It changes the game, makes it more defensive," said Lak Attack. "You had to be more positional."

Posted by jaysuburb at 07:43 PM | Comments (5)

April 22, 2018

Lak misses chance to attack

Lak Attack was a surprise starter in net for Sunday’s regular season finale. And that may impact his readiness for next week’s start of the Stanley Stick championship finale.

The veteran journeyman seemed a little flummoxed when he arrived at the road hockey courts where starter Kid was an unexpected scratch. He said he’d been counting on getting a good run in to ensure he had the legs for next week’s high-stakes showdown.

“I was really prepared to come out and play and battle a bit,” Lak Attack said. “I have to get my speed up with these guys.”

But his teammates had nothing but praise for their substitute shotstopper, despite their sudden death 15-14 loss.

“He stepped in just fine,” said Colonel.

Even though it took Lak Attack a bit of time to find his groove. Especially against Velma, who continued his habit of scoring goals in bunches when he accounted for his side’s first five scores that sent them to the intermission break with a 5-3 lead.

But as Lak Attack discovered his glove hand, his teammates found their scoring touch and scored four straight to claim their first lead, 7-5.

In fact, that’s how the rest of the game went, as each team managed to score a handful of goals to establish their own short-lived advantage. The victor would prove to be the team that scored when it counted most, said Colonel.

“They just had the snipers when they needed them,” said the veteran winger.

Doo said Lak Attack’s strong goaltending as well as the steady shotstopping of Joker back in his team’s own end, ensured Sunday’s game would be a test of mettle for both teams.

“The two teams didn’t want to give up,” he said.

That made it a perfect warmup to the next week’s start of the two-game championships series.

“It gives you really good practice for defensive awareness, which is huge in the Stick,” Doo said.

Although Lak Attack expressed his doubts.

“I can work on my game as a goalie, and all of a sudden I’m out,” he said. “It doesn’t bode well for me.”

Posted by jaysuburb at 09:28 PM | Comments (2)

April 15, 2018

Joker gets serious

The scoresheet read 15-9 for the other guys, but for Joker Sunday’s game felt like a victory.

The fiery goaltender, known for his tantrums when the game goes awry, kept an even keel and his veteran team in a game in which they were consistently outrun by a younger, faster opposition.

“Everybody plays better when they’re cool and calm,” said Joker of his mild-mannered game management. “I have to remind myself to be that way.”

Several times this season Joker let his emotions get away from him as rebounds and bad bounces found their way into the back of his net. A couple of games even ended early when he stormed off the court in a pique of frustration.

Lak Attack said the change in temperament had a positive influence on the rest of his team, as players continued to work hard and manage their effort even as their legs wilted.

“We had to have outstanding goaltending today and that’s what we got from Joker,” Lak Attack said. “He didn’t get out of position too often and he really covered the rebound.”

For two-thirds of the game, the wily veterans matched their fleeter foes, never letting the goal margin get larger than two. But the lack of spare players to spell off tired legs finally caught up to them in the third period.

But even as they were outscored 5-1, Joker remained cool.

“He’s most effective when he’s quiet in the net,” Doo said of the veteran netminder. “He was tracking the ball well and they played some good defense.”

Lak Attack said Joker’s assured presence between the pipes gave his team the confidence to jump on opportunities in the transition game. More often than not, they paid off, as Kid struggled.

“It was all about pacing today,” said the versatile veteran.

Joker said his game lays a food foundation for the regular season’s final game and the opening of the Stanley Stick finale in two weeks.

“It doesn’t feel like a loss.”

Posted by jaysuburb at 09:04 PM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2018

Lak Attack ready to step in

Lak Attack says he’s ready to strap on the pads in the Stanley Stick if he’s called upon.

The veteran sniper was a surprise starter in net on Sunday when Joker was a late scratch to due family issues. But the replacement rearguard proved himself a capable shotstopper as he managed to post a winning record in an impromptu tournament of two-on-two games when the injury list became much longer than the starting lineups.

“This is good practice to get in and get a good read on the ball,” Lak Attack said after the soggy scrimmages. “If I play in the Stanley Stick, I think I’ll be ready.”

And Lak Attack can state that with confidence as time and again he came up big on two-on zero and one-man breakaways.

“It’s lots of fun because you know you’re going to face lots of shots,” Lak Attack said.

Some of those even came from his competitor in the opposite net, as Kid became a key part of his side’s offensive strategy when Cleveland and Living Legend were his teammates. It’s a strategy that paid immediate benefits.

“It shows you the power of three-on-twos and just having that one extra guy adds such a big dynamic,” Doo said.

Lak Attack said Sunday’s deluge of odd-man and uncontested rushes gave him some valuable intelligence on potential opponents should he get the call to tend net.

“You can try to get a read on what kind of plays they typically like to go to,” Lak Attack said. “Guys usually have two or three moves and on a day like today you get a better chance to see those.”

Doo said that information is also important for potential lineups looking for chemistry.

“When you’ve only got one guy, you’ve really got to get inside their head,” he said. “You’ve got to know where they're going to be within a few minutes.”

Posted by jaysuburb at 08:26 PM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2018

Pistol and Joker

Two players, both alike in their enmity,
On cold, blustery concrete, where we lay our scene,
From feeble defence to a new cast sniper,
Where big rebounds and bad bounces make the score uneven.
From forth the rivalry of these two foes
A pair of players take divergent paths
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their departures bury their teams’ strife
The fearful path of their one-day rivalry,
And the continuous scoring of more goals than one would care for,
Nor the other deserved,
Which, but for Joker’s rage, could not prevent,
Is now the one hour’s battle of our court
To which if teammates with resolve attend
What here shall miss, their toil strives to amend,
In time for the Stanley Stick
Just four weeks hence.
A glooming peace this morning with it brings;
The score, for sorrow, will not show its digits:
Go hence, to regroup and resolve to better defend;
Some shall backcheck, and some will float
For never was a story of more goals
Than this of Joker, and his nemesis, Pistol.

Posted by jaysuburb at 07:17 AM | Comments (1)