October 15, 2017

PFG sows seeds for possible comeback

It’s been six years since Pig Farming Goalie played a road hockey game that mattered.

He’s got a lot less hair and what’s left has gone grey. But in Sunday’s regular season opener the veteran net minder showed a new generation of roadsters why he was the most dominant keeper of his era, as he led his team to a 9-1 victory.

It was a triumphant return to the courts for PFG, who famously lost the 2011 Stanley Stick when another long-in-the-tooth veteran, Living Legend, ran circles around his younger opponents and earned the Conn Stick award. And while two knee surgeries since may have slowed him a bit, his sound positioning and knack for angles frustrated opposing shooters time and again on Sunday.

“I think from the first few shots you knew he was going to be sound,” said Bam Bam. “He was moving well and we just tried to do too much.”

Just like old times, said Lak Attack.

“He’s probably our most sound positional goalie,” said the ageing forward. “He’s very tough to beat. You really gotta bank rebounds on him.”

While Bam Bam tried valiantly to employ just such a strategy, time and again they were rebuffed at the edge of the crease.

Pig Farming Goalie said he rediscovered his groove once he adjusted to the furious pace of the game.

“This game is not easy to play,” said the agrarian goalie. “It’s such a quick turnaround, so it’s a good game to keep goalie sharp.”

Lak Attack said it was quickly apparent his old nemesis hadn’t lost his feel for the game.

“He looked pretty sharp,” said the speedy centreman. “You have to be ready in position. That’s the biggest thing as a goalie; to be ready for a shot at any angle.”

At the other end of the court, Joker may not have been able to match his opponent save-for-save, but he was his equal in effort as time and again he was able to frustrate the terrific trio of Lak Attack, Cleveland and Ohio.

“It it wasn’t for him the game would have been over way sooner than it was,” said Bam Bam.

A reality that wasn’t lost on Sunday’s special guest goaltender.

“Joker was keeping them in there,” said Pig Farming Goalie, who was unsure when he’d next appear at the courts.

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October 01, 2017

Warmth of pre-season warms up players

When one of road hockey’s most senior players warns of the perils of missing training camp, it’s best to heed his admonishment.

It would be easy for Colonel to sit back for another couple of weeks to conserve his energy for the long regular season ahead. But he was one of only four players to report to the court Sunday for the first of two training camp sessions.

It should have been a game. Instead the wily veteran, along with Bam Bam, Nouvelle Guy and fellow founding father Living Legend, honed their shots and worked on breakout drills.

Colonel said it was important not to just walk away.

“I think what guys don’t understand is when you play at this level, you can’t really afford to miss training camp,” said the feisty forward. “They just get so far behind and it’s frustrating when you play in subsequent weeks and you’re fully on your game while they’re out there like sitting ducks.”

That was a fate Bam Bam wanted to avoid.

After he missed the midsummer scrimmage in mid-August, he was determined to report to camp to get his game back.

“You always try to find your rhythm and timing,” said Bam Bam. “It’s good to get familiar again with the guys, the stick and the courts.”

Colonel said the laid back opening to training camp was especially disappointing because of the ideal playing conditions.

“The weather is fantastic right now.”

Bam Bam said after last season’s snow and ice cost the roadsters nine weeks of their season, it’s important to make every opportunity to play count.

“We play most of the season in wet, damp conditions, so any time you get dry conditions you’ve got to take advantage,” said Bam Bam. “You never know how many days you’re going to get out of the season.”

Still, for the roadsters who did get in a workout on Sunday, they’ll likely be a little sharper, a little more in sync when the games start for real on Oct. 15.

“You think of it as a warmup,” said Bam Bam. “It’s always good to get warmed up.”

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August 19, 2017

Tradition excites roadsters to start season

In its 26 years, Sunday Morning Road Hockey has developed more than a few traditions. In fact, some players contend it’s those traditions that have kept the game alive for so long.

Wednesday, the roadsters renewed one of their most beloved rituals, the annual midsummer scrimmage.

For the second year running, the roadsters teamed up with players from the doppelgänger gang that populates the court during the summer hiatus — the formative years of a new tradition perhaps?

And, of course, Beetle Boy made his traditional faux comeback, teasing the roadsters with his scoring knack and the possibility he may forsake his rogue indoor career to return to the outdoor game.

“I don’t know if it’s going to happen,” said Beetle Boy. “But games like this, and the fun I have, it definitely makes you want to come back.”

Colonel’s heard that refrain before, and he wasn’t about to be duped again.
“You’ve got to play. Hockey is like that.”

Doo, himself the subject of comeback rumours after he missed all but one game last season following a car accident and his defection to another rogue league, said it’s hard to build a season from one scrimmage. But it does excite the desire to play.

“You remind yourself why it’s fun to play,” said the scoring speedster. “It’s really important to recharge the hockey batteries.”

Colonel said as he gets older, the traditional summer game has become a barometer of his advancing years and the toll they may be taking on his skills.

“You realize you’ve lost your hands a little bit more than anything,” said the Colonel. “It seems more crowded out there, It’s harder to move the ball.”

Training camp opens Sunday, Oct. 1 and the regular season begins two weeks later, on the 15th.

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July 26, 2017

Summer scrimmage only three weeks away

Summer is still in full swelter, but thoughts of the start of road hockey season are never far away.

The roadsters will gather for their annual Mid-Summer Scrimmage on Wednesday, Aug. 16, at 7 p.m.

The casual scrimmage is a chance for the roadsters to get reacquainted with the sting of the evil orange plastic ball, assess their off-season fitness and build anticipation for the coming season, Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s 26th year.

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May 07, 2017

Kid's Conn Stick caps comeback season

Kid capped the most unlikeliest of comeback seasons with a Conn Stick performance between the pipes to lead his team to a 20-10 win Sunday and a two-game sweep of the Stanley Stick championship.

It’s the first time in road hockey history a player has earned the Most Valuable Player award as an offensive player and as a goaltender.

Prior to his mysterious disappearance from the league in 2012, Kid was one of road hockey’s most dynamic and prolific goal scorers. He excelled when the courts were wet as he was able to keep his feet beneath him on the slick concrete without losing speed while defenders slipped and slid in his wake. In 2007 he earned his first Conn Stick Award when he led his team to a dramatic overtime win in the decisive mini-game after they had come back to tie the championship series. Of course, the court was wet.

After several years hiatus, Kid returned to the courts at the beginning of this season. He strapped on the pads for the campaign’s third game and never took them off. He lost only two regular season games.

“All season he was a steadying influence,” said Bam Bam of the reborn rearguard.

That assured presence carried into the post season. After Kid led his team to a
dominant 20-11 win in last week’s Stanley Stick opener, his mates were confident they’d get more of the same this week despite the addition of two snipers, Lak Attack and Ohio, to the underdogs’ lineup.

“He takes care of things defensively,” said Bam Bam. “We knew he could stop the first shot, so that meant we could take our chances. That made us comfortable.”

Time and again Kid was able to snuff out offensive rallies by smothering the evil orange plastic ball in his equipment.

“He didn’t give us a lot of rebounds,” said Lak Attack. “He was solid whenever there were opportunities for us to score.”

“He made it really easy for us,” said Doo.

Bolstered by the addition of more firepower and speed, plus the surprise goaltender switch to put Twizzler in net, the underdogs dictated the early pace. Cleveland seemed energized by pairing with his longtime battery mate, Ohio. Lak Attack wheeled through the middle of the court and drove hard to the net.

“We had the guys who could give and go and run with those guys,” said Lak Attack. “We started really well.”

But when Joker left for another commitment, leaving his side with only one spare player to spell off tired teammates, the wheels started to wobble.

“It’s really tough to have only one sub,” said Doo. “It was hot, it was tight checking. They had some real tired legs out there.”

“We knew we had the advantage on the bench,” said Bam Bam. “We just needed to take advantage of that with quick shifts.”

They did exactly that. A tight-checking game quickly devolved to an endless series of odd-man rushes that a beleaguered Twizzler was powerless to stop.

“We just didn’t have the fitness,” said Lak Attack. “We didn’t have that extra step and the game just got away from us.”

The 2016-17 Stanley Stick Champions are: Colonel, Kid, Doo, Scooby, Beelzebub, BamBam.

Joker's mid-game disappearance was compounded by the unexpected absence of Riddler while Nouvelle Guy was injured. That meant even with the addition of two new players, the underdogs still managed to play undermanned.

Frustrated by the extended mid-season hiatus caused by wintry weather, Cleveland is organizing a summer league to be played at the road hockey courts whenever there is enough interest.

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April 30, 2017

Speed gives advantage to Doo and mates

Speed may have won Sunday’s Stanley Stick opener, but determination and hard work will hoist the trophy next week.

That was Colonel’s cautionary assessment even after his swift side romped to a 20-11 win to take command of the two-game finale.

“Any side can still win regardless of what it says on paper,” said the wily veteran.

Fueled by a younger lineup comprised of speedsters like Scooby and Doo complementing the gritty power of Bam Bam and Beelzebub, Colonel and his mates were never in danger of falling behind in the series’ opener.

Doo said it was a team effort that allowed them to dominate their overmatched opponents by transitioning quickly from defence to offence to create odd-man rushes that, more often than not, ended with a goal.

“We gave up rushes, but we would get the ball back and get it up court in a hurry,” said Doo, who was playing only his second game after he was sidelined by a traffic accident in January. “We outran them.”

They also used their skill advantage, said Nouvelle Guy, whose side was often left flatfooted.

“They made the tape-to-tape passes and that made the difference,” said the francophone forward.

It also frustrated Joker, who was powerless to stanch to flow of forwards raining shots his way. A 5-1 run of goals against in the game’s second period pretty much sealed his side’s fate and caused the temperamental shot stopper to hurl his equipment down the court. That just seemed to fire their opponents even more.

“If you can get the other team thinking negatively, that works in your favour,” said Colonel.

That negativity will have to exorcised, said Nouvelle Guy, is his side wants to get back into the series and force a decisive mini game.

“We’ve got to push a little harder. We’ve got to get our legs underneath us.”

And their effort could be aided immensely by the addition of players who were unable to make it to Sunday’s game. One of those is Lak Attack, who can still streak past defenders despite his advancing years.

Colonel said the longer games to 20 goals that are a hallmark of the Stick could work against his speedy side.

“It wears on people,” said Colonel.

Doo admitted it was hard for his side to maintain their pace for the full game.

“Honestly, as the game wore on we got tired,” said the young centreman. “That’s something we’re definitely going to have to watch for next week.”

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April 23, 2017

Doo's return fires up regular season finale

Doo’s wheeling and dealing up the court and precisions shots sparked his team to an early advantage is Sunday’s final regular season game. But they were unable to sustain that momentum and lost 11-10 in sudden death.

Still, for Doo even the loss felt like a win. That’s because the game was his first since January when he was injured in a traffic accident. A training session last week told him he was ready to play again. Sunday’s game proved he was ready for the intense battles of the two-week Stanley Stick finale that begins next week.

“You just try to acclimatize to the game, make clean plays, work with your teammates and get your vision back for the game,” said Doo. “I think I was able to do all those things today.”

In fact, they allowed his team to build a four-goal lead as Joker struggled in the game’s opening moments. Doo was quick to take advantage, stickhandling his way through bedazzled defenders, dishing pinpoint passes to linemates, charging hard to rebounds.

“We had a good start,” admits Doo.

So much so, after Living Legend banked a soft shot off Joker’s arm from an impossible angle, the veteran netminder threw his gear to the ground in frustration.

That may have been the wakeup call his mates needed. They weren’t going to go quietly.

The Colonel got serious, Bam Bam got belligerent, Ohio got creative and their disadvantage started to disintegrate.

“We just couldn’t finish,” said Doo. “It was a tough game to lose. But from a road hockey perspective, it was a clean game, it was hard-fought. It was a great preview for the Stick.”

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April 16, 2017

Roadster rue readiness for Stanley Stick

Heading into next Sunday’s regular season finale, many of the roadsters are still searching for their Stanley Stick game face.

A dearth of full-court games and ongoing weather woes that scuttled 10 weeks of the season have players questioning their form for the two-game championship finale.

“I think it’s going to be quite a different Stanley Stick because of the shortage of games,” said Lak Attack, who was on the losing side in both half-court games on Sunday. “Nobody has had a chance to play with everyone. It’s definitely going to be a challenge.”

Sunday’s game was a case in point. Despite perfect weather and a dry court, the Easter holiday and illness kept some key players from the court. That necessitated another half-court game.

“It’s kind of hard because we’ve played so few full court games,” said Scooby. “We don’t know how prepared some of the guys are going to be for the Stick. We don’t know how many subs we’re going to have.”

Some of the roadsters who are eligible for the Stick have only played a handful of regular season games. That could make it tough for them to develop chemistry with their teammates.

“You wonder if guys who haven’t been out in a while whether that will affect chemistry in the Stick,” said Scooby.

Even with a depleted lineup Sunday, the roadsters who did report were determined to get into Stanley Stick form.

“I think you’re just trying to build up your endurance that you can run and gun a bit,” said Lak Attack. “It’s a chance to work on the hands, make good crisp passes, and try to be in the right position for guys to find you.”

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April 02, 2017

Veteran play leads to sudden death winner

Two of Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s most senior players teamed up for a veteran play that gave their ageing side a 12-11 sudden death victory.

Colonel’s aggressive forechecking deep in the corner produced a loose ball that he was able to chop across the court to Living Legend parked at the top of the crease. He knocked it through the open pads of a surprised Joker.

“It was an ugly veteran play,” said Colonel of the winning goal.

His veteran team, which also included Lak Attack and Kid 2.0, may have been long in the tooth, but they weren’t short on heart. Twice they battled back from deficits to draw even with their younger, more mobile opponents.

Colonel said they never panicked.

“The experience really helps. These guys have been playing a long time so they know the game can go in different directions,” said the senior centreman.

Which is exactly what they did. While their opponents scored in bunches, the veterans chipped away methodically by outrunning and outworking inexperienced defenders.

“We just didn’t keep sustained pressure,” said Scooby. “We just didn’t keep coming at them. We just relied on a couple of bursts of goals.”

Colonel said his side just tried to play responsible defence, and the breaks would happen.

“You’ve just got to keep you head in it, play strong defence and get some chances off that.”

It also didn’t hurt that Kid 2.0 put in another rock-solid effort between the pipes.
“He’s been an incredible goaltender all season,” said Colonel. “He’s just so solid back there and you expect him to pretty much swallow everything up.”

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March 26, 2017

Rust-belt duo buries creaky opponents in soggy showdown

Cleveland and Ohio drove the offense, as Nouvelle Guy drove hard to the net and their undermanned team scored four straight goals to turn a 7-6 deficit into a 10-7 win in Sunday’s soggy game.

The rust-belt duo’s precision passes sparked their unlikely comeback against a side of wily veterans that also had an extra player to spell off tired legs.

Cleveland said his side had to be careful how they expended their energy, even as they trailed 5-3 at one point.

“It’s a careful balancing act of not going too hard or playing too soft,” said the sophomore centreman. “You can’t fall into a big hole you can’t climb out of.”
And when their legs were weighed down, they knew Kid was capable of holding the fort in net until his tired defenders were able to scramble back to clear rebounds. Three times the renaissance rearguard robbed Living Legend of sure goals with his lightning glove hand.

“We knew with Kid in net, he could shut the door,” said Cleveland. “You can start to measure your ability and endurance to come back if you know he can take care of the first shot.”

While their veteran opponents were buoyed by the late arrival of their fleet-footed spare, Bam bam, they weren’t able to generate enough goals from their scoring chances, said Lak Attack.

“Part of the deal today is that we were our own worst enemy at times,” said the wily winger. “We flubbed a lot of chances, and when Kid had to make the big save he was solid.”

Lak Attack said his side lacked the killer instinct that would have buried their undermanned opponents midway through Sunday’s game, when they were on the ropes 5-3.

“That’s what happens sometimes, they stick around and then they take the lead,” said Lak Attack.

Cleveland said their system of working the perimeter with Ohio as Nouvelle Guy crashed the crease looking for loose balls paid off. It also helped keep their legs fresh.

“I think we needed to devise some sort of plan to expend our energy wisely with Nouvelle Guy standing in front of the net and dropping a bunch of goals in,” said Cleveland.

They may also have been helped by the rainy conditions as the slippery concrete surface neutralized the running and gunning of Lak Attack and Bam Bam.

“It slows the game for sure,” said Lak Attack.

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March 19, 2017

Kid and mates falter from fatigue

The extended mid-season hiatus is exacting a toll on roadsters as they gear up for the Stanley Stick finale just over a month away. Without any substitute players to spell off tired legs, Sunday’s game quickly turned into a battle for survival.

“At different times of the game, you just feel gassed,” said Nouvelle Guy, who’s side gave up two late goals to suffer a sudden-death loss 9-8. “Sitting by the goalie waiting for him to make the save is just no way to play the game.”

But that’s what the veteran centerman and his mates had to do as their fitness diminished after they had opened an early 3-1 lead and seemed poised to romp.

“We weren’t able to go the distance,” said Beelzebub, who’s still getting into game shape after he missed the first half of the season.

As their legs fatigued, the skilled playmaking duo of Cleveland and Ohio were able to command the court with crisp passing and fleet footwork. Living Legend stood poised to chip in cross-crease passes, something he accomplished three times.

“Their passing was just better than our’s,” said Nouvelle Guy. “We gave them too many two-on-ones and two-on-nones.”

That put the onus on Kid to keep his mates in the game. For the most part he succeeded. But as his flat-footed defence abandoned him, there was little he could do against successive odd-man rushes.

After Cleveland and his mates got back to even terms, they continued to press. They took their first lead at 5-4. Beelzebub’s side seemed shattered.

“Confidence was key,” said the fiendish forward. “We lost it, and the other guys got it. That turned the tide.”

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March 05, 2017

Snow pauses season again

Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s silver anniversary season has become more of a snow-iversary. For the ninth time the roadsters were denied a game by wintry conditions.

An overnight storm dumped three inches of heavy wet snow on the courts and made it difficult for some of the roadsters to navigate their way along roads clogged with snow and slush. The denied game was especially frustrating as the league finally seemed to be regaining momentum with three competitive games after its weather-induced hiatus.

“Just when it feels like we’re going to get our road hockey legs back, this happens,” said the Living Legend, the only roadster to brave the wintry weather to get to the courts.

While the court could have been made playable with about 20 minutes of shoveling, said the Legend, without the certainty of a game, the effort wouldn’t have been worth it. Warmer temperatures and rain towards the end of the coming week will likely ensure the court is playable next week.

The scuttled game could also renew calls to extend the regular season so the roadsters have more time to prepare for the Stanley Stick championship series. It’s currently scheduled for April 23 and 30. But delaying it could cause more problems than it solves, said the Legend.

“May is a busy month,” said the fellow founding father. “Roadsters start to go on vacation, and we’re kinda limited by when we can play because of Mother’s Day and the Victoria Day long weekend.”

But extending the regular season by even just a week could also be advantageous for some of the roadsters; Twizzler will have another week to get ready after missing the next six weeks for an extended family trip and Doo should be cleared to resume play after he was injured in a traffic accident.

A final decision on the Stanley Stick schedule is expected in the next two weeks.

In the meantime, the roadsters are champing at the bit to play again.

“Hopefully next week will be better,” said Lak Attack in a note posted to the road hockey message board.

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February 19, 2017

Home game makes everyone a winner

Bam Bam crashed across the crease and jammed the evil orange plastic ball past Kid’s outstretched toe to clinch his side’s 12-10 overtime win in Sunday’s game.

But there wasn’t really a loser.

For the first time in more than two months, the roadsters were able to play a competitive game on the home court. And that made everyone feel like winners.

“It’s good to finally not have to worry about the weather,” said Bam Bam. “I think the guys all felt pretty good today.”

“The enthusiasm level was good,” said Colonel, who was smiling even though his team was on the short side of the score. “It was a lot of fun, a good run. End to end, it was a good time.”

Winter conditions had locked the courts in ice and snow since early December, cancelling a number of games and forcing others to be played at alternate venues. But the freeze up couldn’t fully depart without claiming one last victim, as Lak Attack threw out his back while pushing away the last few remnants of frozen slush; he was scratched from the lineup.

Colonel said it was important for the roadsters to reestablish themselves on the home court, reacquaint themselves with the bounces off the walls and the pace demanded by the small surface.

“It’s great to get a feel for the court,” said Colonel.

Still, the layoff has exacted a toll, said Bam Bam. The roadsters will need to do some work to get their game into shape in time for the Stanley Stick championship series in late April.

“I think it’s very crucial to get some energy and stamina going,” said the feisty forward who was hobbled by a nagging injury.

That wasn’t a problem for Bam Bam’s mates, led by Cleveland and Ohio, who peppered Kid with long shots that found the corners of the net or eluded his glove hand.

“Kid was not struggling on the long shot,” said Colonel. “Those long shots were hard and accurate and they would have gone past any goaltender.”

But when the leaders tried to play a passing game, their scoring touch abandoned them. That allowed Colonel and his mates to climb back into it.

“We did have to take away some of that ball movement,” said the veteran forward. “We just kept coming, we kept cutting into the lead.”

And while they were never able to get back on even terms, a late surge did force overtime to set the two-goal margin for victory. That set the table for Bam Bam’s triumphant play.

“It’s big anytime you can contribute like that, even when your legs are tired,” said Bam Bam.

“There was a lot of skill on the other side, and eventually they won out,” said Colonel.

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February 12, 2017

Sun shines on silver season's second half

The roadsters played their first competitive game in two months on Sunday. It may have been the season’s turning point.

Shut down by a series of snow storms and an extended deep freeze that locked the home courts in an inches-thick layer of crusted snow and ice, Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s silver anniversary season seemed in peril. Even a move to a new, thawed facility to kickstart the campaign’s second half was greeted with indifference and ennui.

But with the sun shining and temperatures warming, the roadsters returned, eager to play. Only one problem: the home courts were still frozen despite five days of mild, rainy weather after yet another storm had cancelled last week's game.

Undaunted, the roadsters packed up and headed to the new facility, cleared of ice and snow, the pavement dried by the sun.

Beelzebub, making his first start of the season, said it was important the game go on, even in an improvised way.

“Something like this, a game in the sun, makes you remember what the game is all about,” said the veteran winger who missed the season’s first half with injuries. “It was important to have a good time, have a good competitive game.”

The roadsters were a little more than rusty after the extended mid-season hiatus, said Lak Attack. “It was a bit of a slower game.”

But their enthusiasm to finally play again won the day.

“You’re not going to get a lot of Grade A chances,” said Lak Attack of the sometimes choppy and sloppy play. “You hope to shoot it on the net, get a lucky goal here and there.”

The roadsters were further hobbled by gaps in the fencing that allowed errant passes and shots to frequently skitter out of play.

“It really hurt the continuity of the game, the stopping and starting with all the balls going out,” said Beelzebub.

“You can’t really use the boards in the same way,” said Lak Attack. “It was a bit slower of a game, for sure.”

Although given their eight weeks of sloth, that may have been just the kind of game the roadsters needed.

“The timing will come back, so will the conditioning,” said Lak Attack. “But you can just see by the turnout the guys are ready to go.”

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February 05, 2017

Fresh snow sours season again

Winter seems determined to turn Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s silver anniversary season into its lost season.

Just as the roadsters were poised to reclaim their traditional home court from the icy grip that froze them out since early December, another storm buried the concrete surface under a foot of fresh, heavy snow. It’s now been eight weeks since the roadsters have played a meaningful game. And with the opening of the Stanley Stick championship series scheduled for April 23, only 11 weeks away, time is running out for players to get into peak playoff form.

After two half-court scrimmages at a makeshift facility, an extended stretch of warmer weather and even rainstorms had washed away enough of the 18-inches of ice and frozen snow that covered the home courts since a series of storms in December. Only a small amount of shoveling would have been required Sunday to make the courts playable.

But another blast of winter that started Friday and continued through Sunday morning put Sunday’s game on ice, again.

Only Living Legend and Lak Attack braved the conditions in a futile hope the game could go on. Their ardour to play snuffed yet again by the weather gods, they trudged their way home through a heavy flurry.

With more snow expected to fall through midweek, and temperatures staying on the cool side, it could be weeks before the roadsters can return to their familiar environs. Players are advised to check the website and social media feeds regularly for updates on the courts and possible makeshift venues.

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January 29, 2017

Sputtering season disappoints veterans

The snow may have turned to rain, but Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s season is still on ice.

It’s been eight weeks since the roadsters slapped the evil orange plastic ball in anger and some of the league’s veteran players are beginning to question the fortitude of its next generation.

“I think they’re about as flaccid as it gets,” said Colonel, one of only four players to report Sunday.

For the second week in a row, the game was forced to an alternate venue as the home courts remain encased in a sheet of inches-thick ice despite a week of warmer temperatures and melting rain.

But Colonel said the temporary venue shouldn’t be an excuse for the roadsters’ sputtering start to the season’s second half. Nor should the chilling cloudburst that drenched the roadsters just as they warmed up Sunday.

“We’ve had crappy weather, but we’ve had crappy weather before,” said Colonel.
The rainstorm didn’t deter Joker.

“We’ve come out in worse weather than this,” said the veteran goaltender. “The roadsters should be able to make it out in any kind of weather.”

Indeed, previous generations of roadsters were renowned for enduring any kind of weather to ensure the game played on. Their lack of resolve to clear the courts after they were covered by the first snowfall in early December contributed to the extended mid-season hiatus as subsequent snowfalls turned to an impenetrable covering of ice and frozen slush during an extended cold snap.

“They don’t understand the work ethic,” said Colonel, a veteran of shovel brigades in seasons’ past. “They grew up in such privilege, always being handed everything on a silver platter… The younger players just want everything handed to them.”

Joker said it's time for those players to prove their mettle. “There are some fair weather players that need to suck it up.”

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January 28, 2017

Courts remain ice-locked

Some sections of the road hockey courts are still frozen with an inches-thick layer of ice. So Sunday’s game will once again be played at Fraser River Middle School.

Living Legend, who scouted the courts late Saturday, said most of the surface at both courts is clear, but huge swaths of thick, impenetrable ice remain around the nets at the east end. In fact, the ice is so thick, the gates are still frozen in place.

“Unfortunately, the courts are in the shade most of the day, so the warm sun in the past week hasn’t had much of an effect,” said the fellow founding father.

A few more days of mild weather should take care of the rest of the ice, and diminish the ice mounds on the center court, said the Legend. Then it should take only a modest shovel brigade to return the courts to game condition.

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January 22, 2017

New facility fails to lure lazy roadsters

Not even the novelty of a new home court was enough to fire the roadsters up for the second half of the season.

Only five players reported Sunday to the converted basketball court that was one of the few outdoor facilities completely clear of the snow and ice that has kept the road hockey season frozen for the past seven weeks. A week of warmer temperatures and heavy rain diminished the glacial sheet a bit, but the roadsters may be banished from their traditional home court for another week or two until the tundra has melted entirely.

In fact, conditions are so bad at the road hockey courts, they’ve been secured by bright yellow caution tape.

Colonel said the unfamiliarity of the new venue may have tempered the ardour of some of the roadsters to get their game in gear after the extended layoff.

“I think people like what’s normal and comfortable for them,” said the veteran centreman. “I’d say our guys aren’t super good at being outside their comfort zone.”

Nouvelle Guy, who supplied the nets that converted the basketball court to a hockey venue, said he was discouraged by the ambivalence of his fellow roadsters.

“It’s pretty disappointing,” said the versatile veteran. “I expected there would be more people out here, but it is what it is.”

The new facility presented some challenges. While it’s mostly enclosed, the surrounding fence is much lower, allowing more balls to escape play. And the fencing doesn’t quite reach the ground so low rollers had a tendency to slip beyond the game.

But, said the Colonel, it was a more than adequate alternative.

“It’s a nice clear court,” said the feisty forward. “The surface is smooth. It’s a lot of fun running around here today.”

That exercise was a major motivator for Nouvelle Guy.

“It’s been really tough,” said the power forward. “I’ve been wanting to get out on the court. It’s one of the things I love to do.”

The mid-season break that has now stretched to seven weeks for some roadsters is unprecedented. And that could have serious implications as players begin to gear their game for the climactic Stanley Stick championship series in April.

“People are fatter,” said Colonel of the season’s slothful pause. “People don’t quite grasp it’s a lot easier to put a few pounds on than to take a few pounds off.”

Playing consistently keeps players sharp, hones their timing and playmaking, said the veteran. Those skills diminish quickly.

“You lose your hands, you lose your ball skills,” said Colonel, who struggled with some of his deke moves during Sunday’s half-court scrimmage. “It’s best for everyone to be out playing the game.”

Another week of wet, warm weather may still not be enough to thaw out the home courts. The ice is that thick, reported Living Legend after he scouted it on Saturday.
Roadsters are advised to check the website and the road hockey social media feeds for updates.

Twizzler announced he'll miss six weeks beginning in February as he takes an extended sojourn to his ancestral home. With his return scheduled for mid-April, he may still be able to play in the Stanley Stick.

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January 21, 2017

BREAKING! Game is on! And on the move.

A week of mild, rainy weather still hasn’t unlocked the road hockey courts from their Ice Age that is now in its seventh week.

So Sunday’s game will be played on the outdoor basketball court at Fraser River Middle School, on 8th Street and Queens Avenue, in New Westminster.

The facility is about the same size as the game’s traditional venue, enclosed on three sides and, most importantly, it’s entirely free of snow and ice, said the Living Legend. He scouted the location on Friday. Nouvelle Guy will be bringing nets.

The Legend said it’s more important to get the season’s second half properly underway.

“The roadsters are champing at the bit,” said Legend, one of the game’s two founding fathers.

“I am raring to play this week,” said Colonel in a message posted to the road hockey media.

The roadsters last played a competitive game on Dec. 4, after which the courts were buried by successive snowfalls then frozen by alternating thaws and deep-freezes. A shovel brigade prior to the Shrimp Ring Bowl on Jan. 8 managed to clear only a third of the playing surface; the traditional start to the season’s second half devolved to a Shrimp Ring Shootout competition.

As cold temperatures persisted, last week’s game was canceled despite efforts to secure a new venue. But they were all still covered with snow and ice as well.

Sunday’s game will be only the third time since Sunday Morning Road Hockey moved to the courts more than 20 years ago that a game will be played in new environs.

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January 14, 2017

BREAKING! Sunday's game canceled

Sunday’s game is canceled.

Another week of frigid weather means the courts are still a frozen tundra of ice and snow despite the roadsters’ heroic effort last Sunday to clear a playing space.

Alternate venues are equally encrusted by snow. In fact, one possible destination was buried by a roof that collapsed from the wintry weight.

Other courts that are clear of snow are too far afield to ensure the trip is worthwhile for the roadsters.

“Some of the guys are already coming quite far to play,” said fellow founding father Living Legend in a statement issued Saturday evening. “It would be unfair to ask them to travel even further for what might turn out to be a pretty sparsely attended game anyway.”

The availability status of those courts on a Sunday morning is also uncertain.

“We wouldn’t want to go a long way and infringe upon an already established game,” said the Legend, who recalled a similar drama years ago at the roadsters’ home court.

With temperatures expected to begin moderating on Sunday, and a week of mild, wet weather ahead, the home courts should be ready for game action by next week, said the Legend.

The roadsters last played a competitive game Dec. 4. Two snow storms that week buried the court and made it difficult for many of the roadsters to travel to shovel them clear. A subsequent thaw followed by an extended cold snap then turned the 18-inches of accumulated snow into a concrete-like moonscape of frozen slush and ice that proved a too great a match for shovels and spades.

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January 10, 2017

SPECIAL REPORT: Game could move

Sunday Morning Road Hockey may be on the move. has learned the weekly game may relocate from its traditional home at the concrete courts if there’s not a significant thaw by Sunday. Current weather forecasts indicate that’s unlikely as temperatures have dipped back below freezing and more snow is expected on Saturday before it turns to rain.

That won’t be enough, as the courts are still largely buried under more than a foot of compacted snow, slush and ice, the legacy of more than a month of wintry weather.
While the roadsters did manage to heroically clear about a third of their court last Sunday, it was only enough space to stage a penalty shot competition.

The roadsters are starving for a real game, said fellow founding father Living Legend. “It’s been five weeks since anybody shot the evil orange plastic ball in anger or the Colonel ran anyone into the fence. That’s too long.”

So, a contingency plan is being formulated that could see the game shifted to a new locale until rain washes away the snow. It would be only the second time in more than 20 years at the concrete courts that a game will be played elsewhere.

One week, in the mid-1990s, a game was moved to an underground parkade during a similar freeze-up. In 2011, the roadsters also opened their season on the road, literally; they played the Wink Classic on the street in front of the fellow founding father’s home as he recuperated from extended health issues.

While the roadsters talked casually about the possibility of officially starting the season’s second half at a new venue as they chopped and shovelled last Sunday, plans are being solidified to make the move a reality if the cold weather doesn’t abate in time.

Stay tuned to, or the league’s social media channels for further details.

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January 08, 2017

Roadsters dig out before digging into shrimp ring

Twizzler scored four times to become the first, and most unlikely, winner of the inaugural Shrimp Ring Shootout on Sunday.

The shotstopping stalwart enjoyed a reprieve from the heavy pads as only one goalie was needed. Twizzler took full advantage as he ripped bullets past his rearguard rival, Joker, high into the top corner, over his glove and through the five hole. It was a remarkable offensive effort against some of the game’s top snipers including Doo, Lak Attack and Scooby, who was making his first appearance at the courts in more than a year.

That the competition occurred at all was a testimony of the roadsters’ resolve to restart the season after a five-week hiatus brought on by extended wintry weather.

“This is the week we were going to get back to playing hockey and you have to take a stand that you’re not going to let anything stand in your way,” said Doo during a break from the arduous effort to chip and shovel away more than a foot of hardened, compacted snow and ice.

It may have been the worst conditions the roadsters have ever encountered at the concrete courts said Lak Attack. A snowfall early in December wasn’t cleared before a thaw and subsequent freeze encased the concrete surface in ice and frozen slush. More snow piled on over the holiday hiatus that was compacted when the neighbouring school reopened.

“This is something we’ve never seen,” said the veteran who’s participated in numerous shovel brigades over his long career. “The amount of snow, and the ice underneath; there’s a lot of challenges.”

But the roadsters were undeterred. Every chunk of snow or block of ice heaved to the side felt like a victory, said Doo.

“They’re doing something impossible. It’s back-breaking labour for a game that we’re probably not even going to be able to play.”

That realization was apparent more than an hour into the clearing effort as the accumulated snow had been removed from only a third of the court, and a thick layer of hard ice still remained.

The shootout contest may not have had the competitive fire of a regular game, but for the roadsters who survived Sunday’s shovelling brigade it still felt like victory.

“It’s great to see,” said Doo. “This is probably helpful for people’s fitness.”

“This is a building block of how badly the guys want to play,” said Lak Attack. “It builds character for the guys… and that’s good for the rest of the season.”

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January 04, 2017

SPECIAL REPORT: Hiatus could last as ice lingers

Concern is growing that the mid-season hiatus caused by snow and ice could extend to a fifth and even sixth week.

The season is scheduled to resume Sunday after the two-week holiday break that was preceded by two cancellations because the road hockey courts were encrusted by a thick layer of snow and ice. But an extended cold snap hasn’t allowed the concrete to thaw.

More snow is forecast to fall Friday and Saturday before it turns to rain on Sunday. But with temperatures expected to continue hovering around the freezing level that turn in the weather may be optimistic.

The Living Legend, who has been monitoring the condition of the courts through the wintery weather, said it would take a heroic effort, a lot of shovels, scrapers and salt to get the concrete in game shape.

That is, if the roadsters can get to the courts in the first place. Surrounding side streets are in deplorable shape as well because city works crews were also caught off guard by the chilling conditions and they’ve been unable to recover. The street where the roadsters normally park is a narrow rut of frozen slush flanked by inches of slippery hard-crusted snow.

“It’s pretty rough out there,” said the fellow founding father. “I almost got stuck doing a drive-by.”

But getting the game going again is not beyond the scope of possibility. A similar convergence of precipitation and cold temperatures chilled the middle of the 2008-09 season, putting the game on ice for five weeks over the holiday break. That season’s Shrimp Ring Bowl wasn’t played until Jan. 18, in sunny, mild conditions; but only after two hours of hard labour chipping and shovelling the accumulated ice and snow away.

“It’s pretty bad, miserable conditions,” said Lobsterboy at the time.

“My first reaction was this isn’t going to happen,” said onetime centreman Cowboy Bill.

If the temperatures don’t moderate by Sunday, and the roadsters don’t deal with the ice and snow, the layoff could even extend another week. The long-range forecast is for more snow and cold weather through Jan. 16.

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December 31, 2016

Shrimp Ring Bowl could be frozen out

The annual Shrimp Ring Bowl is still eight days away, but the odds against it happening are piling up.

More snow is falling on the road hockey courts, which are a tundra of crusted snow and ice. Only an extended thaw will make them playable, said the Living Legend, who dropped by Saturday to assess their condition.

“There’s about six inches of snow on the court, and it’s so hard you can walk on it,” said the fellow founding father. “It’s beyond the help of a shovel brigade; it would take a pick-axe army to clear it. Or a week of monsoon rains.”

But the weather forecast for the coming week is for continued sub-zero temperatures and, possibly, even more snow by next weekend.

That’s bad news for the roadsters, whose season has been on pause for nearly a month after a series of winter storms buried the courts and resulted in the cancellation of two games before the traditional holiday break.

If next week’s Shrimp Ring Bowl is put on ice, it won’t be the first time. In 2009 the roadsters weren’t able to launch the back half of the season until Jan. 19 after record-setting snow and cold froze the schedule for five weeks. And even then it took a heroic two-hour shoveling effort to clear the concrete.

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