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After playing most of his rookie season in the shadow of his young contemporary, the Kid, Bird has started his sophomore season strongly, scoring seven goals Sunday to lead his team to victory.

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Week 2
Bird takes flight

Unexpected sniper takes advantage of attention to teammates

by Jay Suburb

In his sophomore season at the road hockey courts, Bird has gotten used to working in the shadows of his more prolific teammates. Sunday, he took advantage of the attention paid to those teammates to score a career-high seven goals.

As beleaguered defenders struggled to keep in check the expected offensive threat of Lak Attack and the Colonel, the diminutive Bird hovered around the crease unmolested, ready to jump on every rebound, and receive every centering pass.

"We were so focussed on Lak and the Colonel, that we forgot all about the Bird," says notorious gameshow host gone bad, Wink, of his team's defensive oversight. "Normally Bird doesn't present too much of a scoring threat unless it goes in off his head."

But, as he showed glimpses of in his rookie season, and again last week when he scored a miraculous goal off a midair swipe at an upcourt pass, Bird has a beak for the back of the net.

"People don't give Bird enough credit," says the Colonel. "He's actually quite the goal scorer. When he's in close he can really pop it."

Especially when nobody is checking him, as was often the case on Sunday.

"I think when I realized Lak Attack and the Colonel were on my team, I knew I'd be open a lot," says Bird, of the careful attention paid by defenders to his prolific and speedy teammates. "There was nobody around to check me all day."

"Our plan was to double-team Lak Attack and the Colonel, but we've only got three guys out there, so it wasn't a good plan," says Wink. "We just kinda left Bird alone."

But even as tight checking minimized the in-tight scoring threat of Lak Attack and the Colonel, Bird says they were still able to help him in other ways.

"They both can shoot from a distance, and it helps me out to pop those rebounds if it doesn't go in," says Bird. "It worked well today."

And, were it not for the imposing obstacle presented by Ottoman and his big leather goal pads, Bird says he might have scored even more.

"He stopped me on a lot of breakaways because he's so big," says Bird of the cushioned creaseminder "I just had to get lucky and find the holes."

 


Even as Bird reveled in his offensive accomplishment after Sunday's game, he was quick to dispel any notion that he'd become a party to the growing rivalry between Lak Attack and the Kid as road hockey's premier snipers.
"It's good to have a game like this every once in a while," said the Bird, in the postgame Hot Seat. "I'm expecting I'll get checked a little tighter next week, and when I don't score, they'll figure I'm back to normal and leave me alone again."
Other roadsters concurred.
"I'm always surprised
that Bird actually finds the game," said notorious gameshow host gone bad, Wink. "I don't think he proved anything today."
"If players wanna blab about who's better, that's their prerogative," said Guy Called Mike.

Sunday's game was the first for GCM, after a busy off-season in which he acquired a minivan and then expanded his family's roster. And with most of the players on the court holding a two-game advantage on him, he said it was a challenge to regain his focus and timing.
"There seemed to be a lot of distractions, it threw me off," said GCM. "I found myself looking to make a pass, and the next thing I knew I would get checked."

GCM's season debut got off to a bit of a controversial start when he was abruptly traded just before the opening face-off, in an attempt to address a perceived talent imbalance.
"It was huge," said GCM of the deal, that pulled him away from potential linemates Lak Attack, and the Colonel. "I didn't know which way I was going for whole game."

The player for which GCM was traded was an unknown rookie, making his first Sunday Morning start after a long career as an unsanctioned roller hockey player in another country.
"It's always hard to play against a new guy because you're wondering if he's like Lak, or if he's like Bird," said Wink.
And while the newfound forward didn't display the scoring touch of either, he patrolled his wing effectively and assisted on a number of scoring plays.
"He's got a quick release," said Wink. "I thought he showed outstanding talent."

Meanwhile, another rookie, Ottoman, struggled a bit in his second start in goal of the season.
"It's tough to see the ball go in, it's just brutal," said the newfound shotstopper. "If I had stopped a few more, it wouldn't have been that bad."

After the sunny, warm conditions of the season's first two games, Sunday's match was played under a cool overcast. Light showers late in the game rendered the courts as slick as ice, and, said some roadsters, made a comeback unlikely.
"They had a lot of speed today, and as the conditions got more slippery, you start to hesitate to make the quick cut to get back,"said the Living Legend, who's rarely quick to get back even when the courts are bone dry.
"People are a little more tentative when it's slippery, and we can take advantage of them," said the Colonel. "I love it when it rains."

Sunday's game was the first of the season in which both teams enjoyed the luxury of making substitutions. But, said the Living Legend, attendance has been disappointing.
"We've been let down by roadsters before, it's nothing we're not already used to," said the fellow founding father. "Hopefully these guys will start to come around as the season progresses."
Among the roadsters missing in action Sunday were Paul One, Hollywood, Southpark, Gump, Philderama, Lumberjack, Turk and the Whirling Dervish.