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

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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.

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October 21, 2018

Roadsters adapt to depleted rosters

The roadsters are nothing if not resourceful.

With the gate to courts seemingly awol for good, they were able to adapt a discarded election sign to keep the ball in play.

And with fewer players than required to convene a proper game Sunday, they came up with an adaptation that kept the action going.

It’s all about getting a good run in, said Doo, which will pay off as the season unfolds.

“These games are really valuable once we get some big games going,” he said. “We’re getting lots of touches on the ball, getting our skills back.”

“We’re running a lot,” said Scooby.

With five players plus a goalie, the roadsters opted for a rolling game of two-on-two half-court that shifted in a rested player whenever a team scored.

The fluid line combinations kept everyone on their toes, Doo said.

“The game changes really quickly, so you’ve got to be really aware of what the other team is up to.”

That was especially true for Kid in net, who faced a dizzying array of passing combinations that had him spinning at the top of the crease.

“There’s lots more space, lots more shots and the goalie starts making bad plays,” Doo said, adding players can afford to get more creative with one less defenceman to tie them up or knock down a pass.

“With half court, there’s not as many consequences,” he said. “If you make a mistake, it’s not going to wind up in the back of the net right away.”

And while the depleted numbers might seem discouraging as the new season gets its legs, Scooby said it’s encouraging a core group comprises those numbers.

“We have a base of people,” he said. “We can build from that.”

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October 14, 2018

Roadsters defy doubters to launch 27th year

The rumours of Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s demise were greatly exaggerated.

Seven roadsters sent a strong message of solidarity and fortitude Sunday when the league’s 27th year opened with a spirited half-court game in perfect conditions.

There were doubts, though, before the game.

After the debacle of last spring’s truncated Stanley Stick championship series that scattered the roadsters into a summer of uncertainty about the league’s future, followed by a summer scrimmage that attracted but three players, Scooby said he was feeling pessimistic.

Doo said the lack of buzz surrounding opening day, which this year bypassed the traditional two-week training camp that normally allows roadsters to ease back into game shape, gave him pause.

“Nobody was sure if we’d have enough players for a game,” he said.

But the roadsters were buoyed by the unexpected return of Beckenbauer, who missed all of last season because of educational commitments.

The lanky centreman said he needed to get back to the courts.

“It felt like my identity had been stripped away from me,” he said of his hiatus.

And while Beckenbauer’s timing might have been slightly off, he was still able to lead his side to a pair of victories, 5-1 and 5-4.

Doo said the score was secondary. More important was the message the game sends to roadsters still doubting the league can overcome last spring’s Stanley Stick of discontent.

“The game goes on because people decide that morning they want to come,” he said. “They want to see the guys. That’s the spirit of road hockey.”

Scooby said Sunday’s turnout proves the commitment of the league’s core players remains undiminished.

“There is a group of guys here who will be coming out week to week,” he said. “You get some other faces out and we’ll be fine.”

Beckenbauer said he’s optimistic that will happen, as roadsters learn the game is still on.

“It’s infectious,” he said. “It’s just like Ebola and it just spreads through the whole crew.”

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September 23, 2018

Season set to start Oct. 14

Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s 27th year will begin Oct. 14.

For the first time, there’s no pre-season.

League commissioner Living Legend said the early Thanksgiving made the mid-October start tenable as the game on the long weekend is usually poorly attended.

“Even with a pre-season, it takes most of the roadsters until December to find their game legs anyway,” said the Legend.

Despite the all-in beginning, a cloud over the league’s future persists after the debacle that abruptly ended last season during the climactic Stanley Stick finale when both games were cut short after Joker stormed off to protest rough play. Pessimism for the league’s continued viability was further fuelled when only three players reported for the annual mid-summer scrimmage. Although poor air quality from wildfire smoke may have contributed to the reluctance of regulars to take to the court.

Further questions hang over the status of veteran roadsters like Bam Bam, who missed all of last season, and Beckenbauer. And it remains to be seen who will strap on the goalie pads if Joker’s dismay wasn’t tempered by a summer away from the game.

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August 22, 2018

Pall lingers over mid-summer scrimmage

The pall cast over Sunday Morning Road Hockey by the abrupt end to lasts spring’s Stanley Stick championship series lingered to Wednesday’s annual mid-summer scrimmage.

Except this pall was real.

Only three dedicated roadsters, Scooby, Doo, and the Living Legend, gathered at the courts in the eerie orange gloom cast by heavy smoke that settled into the area from hundreds of wildfires burning throughout the Northwest. The choking haze obscured the setting sun casting the courts into an early twilight. It also gave the players pause.

“It’s like playing in a campfire,” said Doo as he slowly paced the court firing shots at the net. “It seemed to get worse in the hours before we played.”

“It feels harsh on your lungs,” said Scooby, who’s been forced inside onto a treadmill as he prepares to run his first marathon in September. “If we were going at game speed, that’s going to be a burning feeling.”

Instead the roadsters laconically ambled around the court, working on their shots and doing deflection drills.

Doo said it was their only option.

“This is something that happens,” he said. “We play outside and the weather can do whatever it wants to do.”

Still, the truncated turnout played on the players’ minds. With the mid-summer scrimmage serving as a barometer measuring hunger and anticipation for the coming season, the roadsters feared Wednesday’s lack of enthusiasm may be a portent of the fall.

“I think there still quite a few questions lingering from last year,” said Scooby. “We’re definitely a bit anxious to see how it all starts in October.”

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August 11, 2018

Scrimmage will be first test of new season

Road hockey’s midsummer scrimmage has been set for Aug. 22.

But whether the game is actually played is anybody’s guess.

The sour taste left by the abrupt end to last Spring’s Stanley Stick finale lingers. The scrimmage will be the first test if there is any kind of appetite for a new season.

The stakes are high, as this will be Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s 27th season. That season is tentatively scheduled to officially begin Oct. 14.

But whether it’s played will be up to the roadsters who will have to get past the acrimony that cast a pall over the finale of its 26th season when both games of the championship series ended early after incidents on the court. It could be the biggest crisis for the survival of the league, which has endured many ups and downs of weather, goaltending and commitment challenges over its long history.

Game time for the scrimmage is 6:30 p.m.

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May 06, 2018

Finale feels like 'unfinished business'

Doo scored eight goals to lead his team to a 16-9 win and a two-game sweep of the Stanley Stick championship series, but there was no celebration, no pouring of champagne, no presentation of the trophy.

For the second consecutive week, Sunday’s game ended abruptly when Joker stormed off the court, frustrated by another fractious incident that overshadowed an otherwise competitive battle on a sunny, warm day. The sudden cessation left players from both teams disappointed and disheartened, and the future of the league may be in jeopardy.

“The Stick is everything that’s great about Sunday Morning Road Hockey,” said Doo.
“The Stick is when you come together because you want to play a game to 20 in the sunshine and you want to play hard for a trophy.”

Again, it was Colonel who was at the centre of the controversy as he took exception to some tight checking by Living Legend. Tempers flared, voices raised and Joker peeled off his equipment declaring he’d had enough, that this isn’t what the game is supposed to be about.

Scooby said he couldn’t disagree.

“It doesn’t feel like the season ended,” he said. “I don’t know where we go from here.”

Doo said his team’s win on the scoreboard feels incomplete.

“We’ll take the trophy, I’m confident we would have won,” he said. “But it’s going to be something that nags at you in the summer. It feels like unfinished business.”

As questions swirled whether Joker would even play Sunday, the addition of two new players — Yak and Ohio — plus the departure of Velma, certainly cast a different complexion on the second game of the finale as last week’s underdogs found themselves with two spare sets of legs. That was an important factor in the sunny, warm conditions, a marked contrast to last week’s rainy opener.

“It was a totally different game today,” Scooby said. “Having two subs, we were controlling the play, we had a lot of possession.”

But Kid was equal to challenge, time and again snuffing offensive rallies by smothering the ball.

“We had to really lean on Kid,” said Doo. “He made a lot of big saves and we had to be opportunistic when we attacked.”

Which is just what the young speedster did, despite playing with an injured hand that he submerged in an ice bucket during intermissions.

Looking to rattle Joker quickly, Doo and Lak Attack pushed the play early and staked their side to a quick 5-2 lead.

“We knew having a good start was really important,” said Doo.

While Scooby and his mates spent chunks of time controlling the ball in the offensive zone, they weren’t able to convert. That may have cost them, he said.

“We were working too hard for our goals. We definitely had to put more effort to get a goal,” Scooby said, as his team trailed 10-4 at the end of the second period.

The 2017-18 Stanley Stick Champions* are: Doo, Kid, Lak Attack, Living Legend, Ohio, Velma.

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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."

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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March 25, 2018

Doo's departure dooms mates

Doo’s early departure doomed his team to a 13-8 loss in Sunday’s game.

The young speedster left after only a few shifts because of back spasms, entrusting his side to the rickety legs of Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s two most senior players, Colonel and Living Legend, along with Scooby, who’s endured his own injury challenges this season. They came up short to the challenge, feebly chopping rebounds right back into the pads of Joker, then giving up odd-man rushes on the transition as they struggled to hustle back.

“Everyone was tired,” Scooby said. “We gave up too many odd-man rushes.”

Their opponents, Lak Attack and Cleveland, were quick to capitalize, as Velma cruised for loose balls to convert to garbage goals.

“We had lots of chances,” Lak Attack said. “We just kept going.”

Scooby said the toll of Doo’s absence really took hold in the game’s second half, when his elderly mates struggled to stay upright. More often than not their offensive opportunities petered into harmless lobs into Joker’s pads.

“It’s harder to score when you’re tired,” Scooby said.

Lak Attack conceded Doo’s departure definitely helped his team. Not only did they no longer have to worry about his offensive ability, they could better manage their effort against an opponent with a similar manpower challenge.

“Our odds increased by at least half because of the loss of Doo’s legs and his skill level,” Lak Attack said. “Doo has a great shot and he probably would have picked up some of those rebounds and buried them. The game would have been much closer.”

The win was especially important for Joker, who’s been struggling to find himself on the winning side in recent weeks. And with a month to go until the opening game of the Stanley Stick championship series, the battle for the chalice just got tougher with two goalies at the top of their game.

“This was good for him,” said Lak Attack of his shot stopping teammate. “He made some big saves today.”

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March 18, 2018

Loss squanders Big D's outburst

Another career performance was squandered Sunday.

Big D scored six times but his team stumbled to a 15-9 loss despite playing with a manpower advantage most of the game.

It was a virtuoso coming out for the young forward who initially joined the league as the “future consideration” when Nouvelle Guy was acquired. His offensive outburst affirmed Big D’s future may be now.

“He had a great game,” said Doo. “Kid’s not an easy goalie to beat six times.”

Tentative and timid earlier in his career, Big D has been growing, putting on weight and gaining confidence steadily through his young career at the road hockey courts. That’s been paying off on the score sheet.

“When he goes into the corners, he’s been able to fight it out with the best of them,” said Nouvelle Guy.

And while his positioning on the transition still needs some work, Doo said he’s got all the tools to be a force in the very near future.

“He’s got really good individual skills,” said the speedy centreman who showed some offensive prowess of his own Sunday, teaming up time and again with Cleveland to lead their side to an easy victory. “He’s got great hands and a killer instinct around the net.”

But Big D’s mates weren’t able to leverage that killer instinct to bury their opponents even after Gary Busey had to leave the game early when he was hit in the eye by a shot that deflected up off his own stick.

“We should have been able to take advantage of having the extra guy,” said Nouvelle Guy. “We didn’t run it out and run them ragged like I thought we could.”

Doo said the slippery concrete, slicked by a rain squall that subsided early in the game, meant neither team could elevate their pace.

“Because it was slick, everyone had to keep their speed down,” said Doo, who instead used some deft passing plays with Cleveland to power their offense.

A few fortuitous bounces that skipped past Joker also seemed to sap his mates.

“That can rattle you,” said Doo of the fluke goals. “I think Joker just had a run of bad luck, and once he’s off his game, it’s easier to give yourself permission to shoot rather than try to make the perfect play.

Due to the persistent efforts of Russian spambots to ruin everything that's good about the internet, comments will be open Sunday evening, then closed again until the night before next week's game. Interim discussions should be held on the Sunday Morning Road Hockey Facebook page.

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March 11, 2018

Velma can't save victory single-handedly

Velma scored seven goals Sunday.

But Velma’s team only scored eight while allowing 13, to squander his hot hand.

And while few of Velma’s goals could be classified as pretty, he was able to keep his team close enough most of the day to cause their opponents some anxiety.

“I thought we were able to play three-quarters of the game really well, but they were able to come on in that last quarter,” said Lak Attack of his team’s occasional swoons that allowed their Velma-led opposition back to within three goals on at least two occasions.

“They kept us on our toes,” said Scooby.

Well, it was mostly Velma who caused that angst as the evil orange plastic ball seemed to find his stick at the most opportune moments and then end up rattling around in the net after banking in off pads, posts and wayward blades.

“There definitely was a lot of strange, flukey goals,” said Scooby, who also scored a few of those himself Sunday.

“He got a few Hair Mary’s today,” said Lak Attack. “Vee was on top of it and he took advantage.”

Those opportunities presented themselves as a bare minimum number of roadsters struggled with the game’s pace in ideal, dry conditions that favoured the speedsters like Scooby.

“I find it much better on the dry courts… just because you lose an edge when you’re starting up on a wet court,” said Scooby. “You can make faster cuts when it’s dry.”

Lak Attack said the spring-like conditions also presented challenges to the goalies as balls seemed to bounce off pads quicker, often right onto the stick blade of patrolling forwards looking for a rebound.

“You tend to have bigger rebounds because the ball moves a bit quicker,” said Lak Attack. “Guys are quick, they’re smart and if they see an opening they’ll take it right away.”

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

February 18, 2018

S'no repeat

Snow and ice cost the roadsters more than two months of last season. So when an unexpected visit from Old Man Winter dusted the road hockey court with a couple of inches of white powder and semi-frozen slush, they weren’t about to let history repeat itself.

But the effort to clear the concrete exacted a toll.

Especially for Velma, who’s still playing himself back into game shape after an extended hiatus.

“It was tough for me,” said reconstituted roadster after Sunday’s game was preceded by at least 30 minutes of shoveling.

While the snow wasn’t exactly welcome, it wasn’t as bad as he’d feared, said Scooby.
“It was a little slippery, but I think we’ve had worse,” said the veteran sniper.

Whether they were fatigued from the pre-game plowing, or worried about getting caught out by an unexpected patch of frozen slush, the roadsters were tentative once play got underway.

“People were slowing down in the middle of the court, especially after there were some big falls,” said Scooby.

Velma said that tentativeness helped keep the scoring opportunities to a minimum.

“Guys were overthinking,” he said. “You sort of had to let instinct take over.”

Which is exactly what Scooby and his mates, Screech, and Ohio, did as they battle back from an early deficit, gave up a lead and then won the game in sudden death, 7-6.

“Patience was a big thing today,” Scooby said. “We did have a lot more time with the ball, but you’ve got to wait for your opening.”

Velma said that cautionary approach cost his team.

“We should have won that game handily if we had been able to bury the ball,” he said.

But on a day that echoed the weather challenges that caught out the roadsters last year, both teams walked away from the courts winners.

“It was awesome to be able to have a full game,” Scooby said.

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February 11, 2018

Sunny skies put losers into black hole

Sunny skies, a dry court and ample subs made for a speedy game Sunday. So speedy, in fact, there was time for two games.

Although that may have been due more to the hasty dispatch of Scooby and his mates by the highly-skilled up-tempo offense from the likes of Lak Attack, Cleveland, and Doo.

“We were never really in that game,” said the veteran winger of his side’s poor performance in a 10-3 drubbing. “Our team just wasn’t good enough.”

Nor was Joker, who seemed to set his side’s mood when he allowed the first five shots he faced to get past him.

“Goaltending is a mental thing and I think today I had a bit of a mental breakdown,” said the veteran showstopper of his inability to do just that.

You know it’s bad when even your own teammates are trash talking you.

Still, Scooby said, there’s usually still hope. But an inability to generate quality scoring chances on Kid ensured his side’s dismal fate.

“We didn’t have many shots, and the ones we had didn’t have much skill,” said Scooby.

From his end of the court, Joker tried to battle his demons but he just couldn’t muster the ammunition.

“If you can convince yourself you can turn it around, then you can,” he said. “It all comes down to mental fitness.”

But as the deficit mounted to 6-1 and then 7-2, Scooby said the notion of a comeback diminished.

“Even when it’s 5-0, it feels like you can still come back,” said the frustrated forward. “But when you’re just constantly training, there’s not much hope. You’re just hoping for the second game.”

Which is just what they got, and a measure of redemption for Joker who rebounded to win it.

That, he said, was critical for his confidence as the season edges towards its home stretch.

“If that sort of thing goes from week to week, you end up getting into a rut and who knows when you’re going to get out of it,” said Joker.

Posted by jaysuburb at 08:48 PM | Comments (13)

February 04, 2018

Lack of shots costs Scooby and his gang

Velma and his veteran mates started converting odd-man rushes to break open a tight-checking game and beat their rookie-laden rivals 10-3 Sunday.

For much of the game’s first hour, neither side gave a quarter and it seemed doubtful they’d even reach the first five-goal break before time expired.

But a relentless run of odd-man rushes finally started producing results.

Velma said his side just had to stick with its game plan.

“You’ve got to play the bounces and play the odds and sooner or later you’re going to get bounces on your stick,” said the veteran winger, whose side was anchored by stalwart veterans Nouvelle Guy and Lak Attack.

Scooby said his side just ran out of steam.

“I think as the game went on, we got a bit more tired than they were,” said the dynamic speedster.

That may have been due to the two rookies, Gary Busey and Screech, who cracked the lineup but seemed to struggle with the pace at times.

Scooby said his side needed to simplify its game by just firing shots at the net at every opportunity.

“There’s just more chances generated when your able to throw the ball on net,” said Scooby. “We just didn’t do nearly enough of that today.”

Velma said his side set out to exploit the rookies at every opportunity.

“Not knowing the court, not knowing the wet spots, you could see a bunch of the new guys going down left, right and centre, and you’ve got an odd-man rush right away,” said Velma.

Scooby said even when his team did manage to break through, they were thwarted by the glove hand and hoovering pads of Kid, who returned to the crease after he missed last week’s game.

“If you looked at our three goals, I think most of them were just shots where he was screened,” said Scooby of Kid’s infallibility.

Posted by jaysuburb at 09:09 PM | Comments (3)

January 28, 2018

New players persevere in downpour

The addition of two new roadsters energized the roadsters on a day that could have been a washout. Literally.

For the fourth week in a row the roadsters were able to play a complete game. Sunday, it was in a driving downpour that flooded the court and soaked everyone’s feet.

“It was a bigger win for us having everyone come out to play,” said Lak Attack, whose team battle back from an early deficit to ride the momentum of five straight goals to a 10-9 victory.

The comeback was largely sparked by one of two new Velma disciples who made their Sunday Morning debut. Their resilience and determination to gut it out despite the deteriorating conditions was motivating to their teammates.

No more so when Lak Attack struggled early on with his glove hand and five-hole, putting his team behind 5-2 at the first break.

“These guys kept the pressure on and that helped me settle in until we got the lead,” said the veteran goaltender.

Scooby said his side knew without a spare player, they had to strike quickly and often to build a lead they could try to ride out to victory.

“We definitely got lucky early,” said the speedster.

But that luck didn’t hold, as Doo and Velma started to buzz the net and find holes around Joker.

“The guys realized they had to step it up,” said Lak Attack.

The deplorable conditions that even forced the roadsters to switch courts midway through the game, may also have had a role in the game’s turnaround.

“Wet conditions like this really change the game,” said Lak Attack.

Despite the loss, Scooby said he was encouraged by the addition of two new players.

“It will definitely take them a few games to adjust,” said Scooby. “When it’s your first game, you may not know where to go for the ball.”

Posted by jaysuburb at 08:36 PM | Comments (8)

January 21, 2018

Winners full-measure after half-court warmup

A rocky transition from the half-court to a full-court game slowed Sunday’s winners, but it didn’t derail them en route to a 10-9 win.

With Lak Attack and Colonel dispatched to fetch the second set of goalie gear after Kid was a surprise scratch, Sunday’s game started as a half-court battle with Joker minding the crease for both teams. When the absent players returned, the score was reset to zero as they were distributed to the underdogs.

The fresh legs seemed to spark them, as they jumped to a quick lead and seemed to have their skilled opponents on the ropes.

“In the full-court game, you’re playing more of a north-south game and I think that played into our style a bit better,” said Cowboy Bill.

“They took it to us early on,” said Doo. “You can get a little lazy in the half-court game and I think that slipped into our game early on.”

In fact, it almost sunk them.

With Cleveland hustling after every loose ball, and Colonel firing from the point, Cowboy Bill and Velma were able to scrap for rebounds and loose balls to generate scoring chances on a befuddled Joker.

But the skill and fleet feet of Scooby and Doo, along with the power forward abilities of Nouvelle Guy and garbage retrieval of Living Legend ensured the hole didn’t get too deep.

“They had skill on their side,” said Cowboy Bill. “We just had to really scrap for whatever we got.”

Those opportunities diminished as the game wore on.

Once the underdogs decoded the riddle of Lak Attack, the goals hit with regularity.
But Sunday’s losers weren’t about to cast blame.

“We’re always confident that Lak Attack is going to give us a good game,” said Cowboy Bill.

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