influx this season of new players, like Beetle Boy, has allowed
the roadsters ample opportunity to recharge between shifts on the
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Shifting lines breathes new life into game
by Jay Suburb
Beetle Boy likes to rehydrate his kidneys with sports
drinks. Guy Called Mike fiddles with his equipment and frolics with
his dog. Billy Idol peers intensely through the fence, focussing on
his next shift. Paul One sweats.
An influx of new recruits to Sunday Morning Road Hockey
has given players a luxury they've rarely enjoyed in the past; long
rest breaks to recharge between shifts, and full lines of familiar teammates.
And, say the roadsters, that's breathed new life into the game.
"It makes for a better level of play," says
Paul One, a veteran of many seasons when spares were sparse and rest
breaks rare. "You're not completely bagged, you can go 100 percent
on your shift."
"It lets you go out and play harder every shift,
and that's a good influence on the game," says sophomore sniper,
"It gives everybody a nice break," says Billy
Idol, a rookie who rarely sits between stints on the court. He clings
to the fence, his eyes carefully following the play. "It gives
the guys a chance to recover and get back out there to score some goals."
On Sunday, there were enough roadsters for each team to
construct two full lines. That's been the case more often than not all
season. And, say the roadsters, that's changed the way they play.
"It's nice to have the continuity with two linemates
I know," says Beetle Boy. "I think it makes for better play
because linemates get familiar with each other, you almost get a system
"It makes the game less complicated," says Paul
One. "When you're putting your lines together, you can juggle them
around, figure out who's going to work well together."
It's also made strategy important, says Billy Idol, as
teams try to find the magic combination of offensive sparkplugs and
"You try to have one guy on a line who likes to play
back a little, and leave the fast guys up front."
"Everybody kinda knows their role," says Beetle
Boy. "You want one or two really speedy guys, and you want somebody
who can sorta stay at home."
But, says Paul One, mostly a team looks for combinations
that work well together.
"I think you can look for a whole bunch of stuff,
but it all comes down to chemistry once you're out there," says
the veteran forward.
Teams are also matching lines as they try to neutralize
each other's offense and overcome their opponents' defense.
"You can develop a strategy to counter what the other
team is doing," says Bird. "You know what lines you're going
up against all the time, so you have a better idea of what's going on."
Almost every roadster agrees two full lines for each team is ideal.
More than that and players get restless from the lack of playing time.
Less than that, they get tired faster.
"To me, this is the perfect number of guys," said Paul One.
"It's a good workout."
"You don't have one guy out there all the time who has to play both
lines," said Billy Idol.
Both teams started Sunday's game with two full lines, but the unexpected
departure of the Living Legend half way through the game threw that balance
out of whack, and may have had an impact on the outcome.
"All of a sudden we were playing with guys we hadn't played with
all game," said Guy Called Mike of the late-game line juggling necessitated
by the Legend's absence. "I think it took a while for us to click
But by then it was too late, as the undermanned underdogs were unable
to keep up the fight, succumbing 25-23.
The Legend was forced to leave the game early to attend another function.
But by starting the game, he maintained his league-leading ironman streak,
which is soon to enter its third year.
A more auspicious streak also endured Sunday, as Hollywood's once
brilliant career continued to fade from the roadsters' memories. The former
superstar has only made a couple of token appearances at the courts this
season, despite persistent rumors of an imminent comeback.
"It's just disappointing, more than anything," said Paul One
of his former co-commuter. "He was a dedicated roadster for so many
years, he came out in the snow and the rain, he was out on the darkest
days, and it would be nice to see him out."
Or at least let the roadsters know of his plans, said Paul One, "so
we could get that closure."
But the longer he stays away from the game, the less likely he is to ever
return. It's the same pattern that's swallowed so many other lapsed roadsters.
"When you're out for a few games, you start doing different things
on a Sunday morning, you start getting out of your road hockey routine,"
said Paul One, who's fought that demon himself in previous seasons. "It
does become a little more difficult to come back."