Lobsterboy prepares to play his first game in six weeks, but for the first time in two years, it won't be as a goalie.


Week 8
Lobster leftover

Goalie surplus leaves longtime shotstopper fighting mad

by Jay Suburb

Back from his worldwide recruiting trip, Lobsterboy prepared to do battle at the road hockey courts for the first time in six weeks. He never imagined he'd be battling for his job.

After years of lurching from goalie crisis to goalie crisis, Sunday Morning Road Hockey has a new problem--too many shotstoppers. And on Sunday, Lobsterboy suddenly found himself the odd crustacean out.

"It's really really tough," says Lobsterboy, who'd established himself as road hockey's pre-eminent netminder since the retirement of goaltending stalwart Wawrow, twice winning the Conn Stick trophy as the most valuable player in the Stanley Stick championship tournament. "You see these foreign players come in and replace you like that, I'm really upset about that."

But his newfound rivals weren't making any apologies.

"I hear many stories about him, but I'm not afraid of losing job," says Pig Farming Goalie, who made his second start since joining the league three weeks ago. "He has to put his money where his mouth is."

"It's nice when you have lots of goalies and you have a few options," says Ottoman, who's become a regular starter this season after a one-game flirtation with the league late last Spring. "It's a nice change from too many times when we haven't had enough goalies."

Even one of Lobsterboy's biggest fans, notorious gameshow host gone bad, Wink, wasn't rushing to his defense.

"I barely recognized the guy when he showed up," says the fellow founding father of the veteran backstop. "We can't rely on Lobsterboy anymore. Road hockey is a game of attrition, and he's been squeezed out."

Not so fast, says Lobsterboy. He's not about to turn his back on a career he's worked so long and hard to build, with little more than the bruises and battered ego to show for it.

"I wanna reclaim my position bigtime," says Lobsterboy. "I've gotta claw my way back."

And with three goalies competing for two starting spots, they're already feeling the pressure.

"You wanna play well in front of them, because you don't want them going off saying 'I coulda saved that,'" says Ottoman.

"I felt shame when many goals go between my legs," says Pig Farming Goalie. "I felt wobbly."

"I can't wait for one of those guys not to show up," says Lobsterboy.

A little competiton should make all the goalies better, said Wink, and that's good for the game.
"I think it's healthy for the league to have that challenge in goal."
And with veteran snipers Lak Attack, the Kid, Paul One and Hollyood also proven proficient between the pipes, the competition could get fierce.
"We've got two good goalies, and lots of good backup goalies," said Wink.
"There's lots of guys out there who could play net," said Ottoman.

With Ottoman and Pig Farming Goalie strapping on the big leg pads, Lobsterboy got his first chance to drive into the offensive zone in more than two years. And, he admitted in the post-game hotseat, it was pretty unfamiliar territory.
"I haven't had to play out for so long, I didn't now what to do out there," said the creaseminding crustacean, who did remember enough of his offensive abilities to score two goals, and added a couple of assists. "You don't know what the guys are going to do, it's hard to get to the passes."
Lobsterboy's trepidation wasn't lost on his rivals.
"He shoots like a goalie," said Pig Farming Goalie.
"He was pretty ineffective," said Wink. "He's weak in the heart."

Perhaps belying his goalie's fitness, and his six-week hiatus, Lobsterboy started strongly but faded through the game's second half. So did his teammates, who seemed to have the game well in hand, maintaining two and three-goal leads into the third period, but then gave up eight straight to lose, 20-12.
"I got the sense that after we finally got that first lead, at 13-12, that we were gonna roar from there," said Wink of his team's tenacious comeback. "We had been withstanding their charge all game and all of a sudden we had the lead and they didn't know how to react."
Or how to stop the Kid and the Colonel, who had struggled in the early going but lit it up down the stretch.
"Our snipers started connecting," said Wink. "Road hockey is a game of momentum and, at the end, we had the momentum."
"They picked it up and came together more as a team," said Ottoman of his suddenly ferocious foes.
"We finally got some good playmaking and we scored lots of goals," said Pig Farming Goalie, who also elevated his game in the second half to record his second victory in two career starts.

Sunday's game was the second in a row to be played in ideal conditions, a welcome respite from the rainstorms that had plagued the courts through most of the early season. And again, the roadsters responded in force, as each team comprised two full lines plus one additional spare.
While the rest breaks were welcome in the fast, intense game, some roadsters said the constant cycling of linemates made it a challenge to establish any kind of cohesion.
"It takes a while to find the chemistry every week," said Wink. "It's a matter of rolling over those lines and getting the guys into the flow."
"When you're not playing with one line, you don't have the same intensity," said Lobsterboy. "If you're playing with the same guys, you know the plays that are coming up, but when you keep switching, it gets confusing."