by Jay Suburb
Ottoman's first victory in six weeks almost slipped away.
With the temperature at gametime hovering right around
freezing, the road hockey courts were glazed with a thick layer of frost,
making them as slick as ice hockey rinks. Except no-one brought their
As the roadsters slipped, slid and tenderfooted their
way up and down the court, occasionally finding themselves splayed on
their backsides, Ottoman stood tall to lead his team to a 25-22 win.
It was his first win since Week 7, and a remarkable reversal of the
drubbing he endured last week.
"It's nice," says the rookie rearguard of his
rare victory. "You come out here just to have fun, but it's always
a bonus to get some wins."
But it wasn't easy. Twice his side opened up six-goal
leads only to squander them to their feisty opponents. And, says Ottoman,
the slippery conditions didn't help.
"The big difference is going from net to net. Each
end is different; one end was really really slick."
Even a liberal spread of rock salt, sprinkled on the most
problematic areas by the court crew before the game, couldn't help road
hockey's speedsters find their footing.
"It made it hard on everyone," says Bird, who
continues to emerge from his mid-season scoring swoon, finding the net
four times on Sunday. "It's harder to stop, harder to turn fast.
You've just got to take a lot of shots and hope something goes in."
The cold temperature also rendered the evil orange plastic
ball rock hard. That meant trouble for the game's playmakers, as the
semi-frozen sphere bounced off their sticks and shots sailed erratically
toward the cowering creaseminders.
"Shots from far out, they curve and dip, you just
don't know what they're going to do," says Ottoman. "There's
nothing much you can do about it, you just end up looking real bad."
"You can't tell where the ball's going,," says
New Guy, who made his first career start in the opposite net. "It's
a little more erratic."
And a lot more painful. As the Hired Gun and Lak Attack
found out face first when they were felled by high shots late in the
"I love the cold ball because you can do things like
bust Lak Attack open," says notorious gameshow host gone bad, Wink,
who fired both of the fateful shots. "It got to the point where
we were having trouble at the end, so you just start trying to shoot
at guy's heads."
"That orange ball hurts no matter what," says
Ottoman. But for the struggling shotstopper there could be no gain without
a little pain.