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Ottoman appears to be mocking his losing streak, as he suits up before Sunday's game wearing a big target on his chest. But he got the last laugh, and his first victory in six weeks.

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Week 13
Icing a victory

Beleaguered backstop slides his way to win

by Jay Suburb

Ottoman's first victory in six weeks almost slipped away. Literally.

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 skates.

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 game.

"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.


New Guy made his first start as a goalie after Lobsterboy was a surprise scratch for the third straight week.
The neophyte netminder struggled early. But as he adjusted to the slippery conditions and steeled himself against the pain of the frozen orange plastic ball, he settled down to allow his team to press deep into the opposition's end and forge a couple of dramatic comebacks.
"The first few shots were tough to get a bead on," said New Guy. "When the players are coming in, you're trying to sweep your stick at them to try to get them off their feet and break up the play."
"When he settled down and stood in there, he was making some good saves," said Ottoman of his netminding nemesis.

The court crews seemingly good intentions to spread rock salt on the slippery concrete may have created as many new problems as it solved. Finicky forwards complained of their pinpoint passes ricocheting off the pebble-sized granules, and the goalies found themselves ducking salty shrapnel.
"It caused the ball to bounce everywhere and it didn't seem to help any," said Bird.
"You don't want the salt around because when you stop a shot, you get salt in the face," complained Ottoman. "It stings the eyes."

As anticipated, the holiday season took its toll on attendance, as a number of players missed Sunday's game to travel out of town. But the remaining roadsters were surprised not to see some of the game's former stars, like Wendel and the Henchman, who were expected to travel to town for the seasonal celebrations.