November 25, 2018

Colonel's comeback greeted cautiously

Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s most polarizing player returned to the courts Sunday. It was Colonel’s first game since a pair of incidents in last spring’s Stanley Stick championship series sparked successive walkouts by Joker and truncated the season finale.

Colonel said he felt he’d finished his hiatus and with the game showing renewed signs of life, he “wanted to come out and have a run with old friends.”

The most senior active roadster after founding father Living Legend, Colonel’s career has been dogged by controversy and incendiary encounters with rivals and even teammates.

Some cited those clashes as their motivation to retire.

Scooby chose his words carefully when he commented on the significance of Colonel’s comeback.

“We obviously need more guys,” he said. “I think at this point we’re open arms to anybody.”

Colonel said his absence was trying.

“The game is so much fun,” he said.

Still, Sunday’s turnout fell one short of a full complement for a proper game. But it was the first game of the season with goalies at either end as a side of seniors comprised of Colonel, Living Legend and Nouvelle Guy was challenged by the young speedsters Scooby and Doo.

The veterans struggled two-on-two but rebounded from a 5-2 deficit once they had a man advantage to win, 10-7.

Colonel said his delayed start to the season took its toll.

“Chemistry takes some time to renew,” he said. “And your hands aren’t the way you think they should be.”

Scooby said he and Doo remained resilient despite playing two-thirds of the game at a man disadvantage.

“We had more chances that I would have thought,” he said.

Posted by jaysuburb at 10:17 PM | Comments (7)

November 18, 2018

Too soon for game's aloha says Elvis

Elvis is in the building.

Or rather, the road hockey court.

After 10 years away from Sunday Morning Road Hockey, the venerable veteran who retired with eight straight Stanley Stick victories, returned to the haunt of his former glories and he brought with him another colourful icon of the past, Pig Farming Goalie.

They were trying to breathe renewed life into the league after its death knell echoed across the internet last week.

And while their presence meant the game could go on for at least one more week, the handful of veteran regulars had to temper their optimism because the comebacks were more like guest appearances.

“We’ll have to see,” said Elvis of the prospect of recurring games. “I’m not saying I’m going to be a regular.”

“We had a lot of good years playing here,” said Pig Farming Goalie. “We made lots of good memories so we wanted to make some more.”

Still, the battery mates said it was important to make an effort and show the current generation of roadsters the game is worth fighting for.

Elvis said he was inspired by the ongoing commitment of the roadsters who’ve persevered.

“I think the dedication to the game that’s lasted all these years,” he said. “Hopefully it inspires a few guys to keep coming out.”

Pig Farming Goalie said changes in farming technology that means his pigs are now raised by machines have freed up more time but he was feeling wistful that he might not be able to spend some of it renewing rivalries at the road hockey courts.

“It was a bit sad to see what has happened to road hockey,” he said, adding it will take strength and fortitude to keep the game going.

“It’s a group effort,” he said.

But with the return to action of Elvis and Pig Farming Goalie far from a weekly assurance, the core problem remains. The roadsters were also bolstered by the first start of the season by Lak Attack, as well as the return of Kid after several weeks away, however other key veterans like Doo, Scooby, Joker and Beckenbauer were no-shows.

Elvis said he was dismayed

“It’s a beautiful day out here,” he said. “Days like today, I don’t think there’s much excuse.”

Pig Farming Goalie acknowledged life can get in the way at times, but a life without road hockey is a lesser life.

Posted by jaysuburb at 09:42 PM | Comments (4)

November 11, 2018

Childhood's end?

The silence of the roadsters is deafening.

Even after last week’s call to arms, only Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s founding father, Living Legend, and Nouvelle Guy answered on yet another perfect day to play.

Vague promises of players recommitting have yet to be realized with sticks in the pile, bodies on the sidelines. Remember when teams could form two lines and some players would complain that meant they didn’t get enough court time?

Even the comments board on has gone quiet, save for the Cialis spam.

So, perhaps it’s only appropriate we turn this issue of over to the commissioner:

Road hockey is the game of our youth.
For 27 years, Sunday Morning Road Hockey has been a weekly connection with our younger selves, even as the passage of time renders us greyer, slower, less agile.
For two or so hours a week, we could be 12 years-old again, throwing our sticks into a pile to choose up sides, racing after the evil orange plastic ball with delusions of Gretzky dancing in our heads.
The game was an escape, a world separated from the reality of jobs, relationships, the responsibilities and pressures of adulthood. We gave each other goofy nicknames because that’s what hockey players used to do and the newly-forged monikers affirmed the divide of our road hockey selves from the realities of our day-to-day lives.
Somehow, the formula endured even as players came and went. Games would be won and lost on a weekly basis, but the culture of the game never wavered, and every roadster became very protective of it.
That’s why we played in the rain. That’s why we shoveled snow and ice. That’s why we played through injury and illness. That’s why we scoured for new recruits when the ranks thinned. Because if the game ever went away, it would feel like we’d lost a piece of our youth.
It’s hard to say how many roadsters chased the evil orange plastic over the years. Some alighted for a game and never returned, others encamped for years.
Sunday Morning Road Hockey started as a bunch of work colleagues blowing off a little steam on a decommissioned tennis court. The nets were spare boots and jackets. The players brave enough to guard those nets did so with little more protection than a worn baseball glove and a goalie stick. One of them stuck to that ethos for so long, he became legendary.
When the courts were opened a couple of years later as part of a school reconstruction, the game moved but its spirit remained rooted at those tennis courts where it was all about running around, having a few laughs, scoring a few goals, then heading home tired and eager for the next game. The very same spirit that drew us out as kids into the cold winter air after dinner so we could “take shots’ with our buddies under the streetlights, or anticipating a snowfall because we knew the snowplow would make the street slick and, for a day or two, we could slide around in our boots during a game like real hockey players, or studying our hockey cards to be able to call play-by-play.
Most of those kids grew up. But for those who refused, who clung to those innocent days, I would hope it’s been a heck of a lot of fun.

Living Legend

Posted by jaysuburb at 08:32 PM | Comments (17)

November 04, 2018

Requiem for Sunday Morning Road Hockey?

Sunday morning’s wind blew away Saturday’s deluge of rain, but the cloud that hangs over the future of Sunday Morning Road Hockey persists.

Even with the extra hour of sleep brought by the annual return to Standard Time, and perfect mid-fall playing conditions, the roadsters were a no-show. After last week’s rainout, that means in the season’s four weeks so far, the roadsters haven’t played as much as they have.

Whether they’ll ever play again has become a real question.

Dismay over last spring’s truncated Stanley Stick finale that cast a pall over the off-season, combined with a poor showing at the mid-summer scrimmage and the cancellation of the pre-season, meant the league’s future was already hanging by a thread.

The return of a solid core of dedicated veterans for the season’s opening two games offered a glimmer of hope, along with the promise of more returning players as well as some new recruits. But on a bright, breezy November morning, the hope that Sunday Morning Road Hockey may have put the tumult of its 26th year behind it and could forge on with its 27th may have been extinguished.

Momentum is a fickle thing in road hockey. Just as a game can turn on an opportune goal, the season can gather its legs with a shift in the weather or a rallying of resilience. So far this season, though, it seems there’s been no inclination to take advantage of the former or to execute the latter.

In days of yore, the default of Sunday Morning Road Hockey was always to play, at any cost. The game didn’t stop because of torrential rain, or biting cold, nor blowing snow. In fact, games in difficult circumstances became one of the league’s touchstones, it’s ongoing point of pride that made the roadsters love it all the more and fight for its survival.

That included building back the rosters through generations of players.

Perhaps, after 26 years, the fight to go on has finally gone.

Convening half-court games just to get a run in wears thin when roadsters travel from near and far. Leaving the comfort of home and the company of family for the chance to chase the evil orange plastic ball loses its luster when you’re the only player at the road hockey courts doing the chasing.

Sunday Morning Road Hockey is in crisis, and only the players can save it by actually playing.

Posted by jaysuburb at 04:52 PM | Comments (5)