Rookie shotstopper, Rudy, stones Elvis in close, late in Sunday's game. With both regular goalies, Ottoman and Pig Farming Goalie, out of the lineup, it was up to the rookie, and his slightly more experienced opponent, New Guy, to make the saves that saved the game.


Week 21
Crisis management

Rookie goalie saves game, then shots

by Jay Suburb

First he saved the game, then he saved their shots.

As a newfound recruit, Rudy just wanted to make a good impression. By the end of Sunday's game, he had most of the roadsters shaking their heads as his acrobatic saves led his team to a thrilling, come-from-behind, 23-21 win, in triple overtime.

With the league's three regular starting goalies out of the lineup for various reasons, the roadsters arrived at the courts fully prepared for a creaseminder crisis. New Guy had already announced his intention to strap on the pads, but the other end remained untended.

All eyes looked to Rudy. Afterall, as the newest novice, he couldn't know the pain and heartbreak that awaited him.

But the only hearts breaking would be those of his opponents as Rudy flopped, flailed and threw himself across the crease to keep the evil orange plastic ball from crossing the goal line.

"The new goalie was amazing out there today," says Elvis, who only managed to get one shot past him all morning. "He made some pretty unbelievable saves, got across when he had to, stopped all the one-timers, all the redirections. He was pretty solid."

"He was very quick, very agile," says notorious gameshow host gone bad, Wink.

"You just roll around and hope it hits you," says Rudy. "I just wanted to keep us within a couple of goals, knowing that if we got late into the game and had to win by two, we'd have a pretty good chance."

And that's exactly what happened.

Using their speed advantage over a lineup that included three of the league's oldest and slowest players, Giebelhaus, Living Legend and Wink, Rudy's teammates wheeled to an early lead. A couple of players grumbled halfheartedly for a trade. Rudy got comfortable.

"I tried not to think of the pressure, I've just gotta make saves," says the rookie shotstopper.

But never underestimate the guile and determination of the veterans. Unable to keep up with their opposition's fleet-footed forwards, the Legend and Giebelhaus crashed the end boards, Elvis and the Kid forechecked along the wings, and Wink encamped at the point.

"You've gotta try to keep the pressure on all the time, force the play in the opposition's end and try to force a mistake," says Elvis.

And when those mistakes ended up on Wink's stick, they paid dearly. Nine times the veteran's searing slapshot eluded the newly-minted netkeeper's waving glove, pads and stick.

"That big shot took me a long time to figure out," says Rudy.

By the time he did, his team had slipped behind, 16-12.

"We started to lose it there, we just kinda fell apart," says Billy Idol, of his team's mid-game swoon.

But, says Rudy, it was important they not panic.

"I thought it was coming. It seemed like once we could get the lead, it would be an even game after that."

Five straight goals got them their lead. From there it was a dogfight. And Rudy controlled the leash.

"We was robbed," says Wink.

"We were working pretty hard out there," says Elvis. "We had some great chances, but we just couldn't put them in."

"Rudy kept us motivated," says Billy Idol. "To drive our way back and win the game was fantastic."

When Rudy found himself between the pipes for his first Sunday Morning start, he wasn't in completely uncharted territory. But the net he's familiar with is much narrower. He's an experienced lacrosse goalie.

An early turning point may have been his denial of the Kid on a controversial penalty shot, halfway through the game.
Normally one of the game's deadliest scorers on the breakaway, the Kid seemed stumped by Rudy's aggressive move to cut him off at the top of the crease; his shot rolled harmlessly past the goalie's splayed legs.
"I think he had too much running through his head, and he lost control of the ball eventually," said Rudy of his foe's unlikely flub.
But the significance of the squandered scoring attempt wasn't lost on his teammates.
"It gave us a little more confidence in Rudy," said Billy Idol.

The penalty shot was called when Billy Idol, covering up for his goalie, who had fallen out of position at the edge of the crease, blocked a shot on the goal line with the open hand of his glove and then threw the evil orange plastic ball into the corner.

Not to be outdone by his neophyte nemesis, New Guy also played strongly for his team, giving them the confidence to pinch in at the center line and press the forecheck.
"I think we dominated the game," said Wink. "The score is completely flattering to them. We were just the victim of some weird bounces."
And plenty of weird deflections, as at least a half dozen of the shots that did defy New Guy deflected crazily off defenders or glanced haphazardly off Bird.

Wink's nine goal performance was his best of the season, and second only to a ten goal game earlier in his career.
"It was just one of those days when guys weren't checking me very tight," said the notorious gameshow host gone bad, who achieved his offensive outburst in his first game since announcing he'd recently accomplished unsanctioned sex. "I had my one move working, my one little dipsy, because I don't have a doodle."
And, he said, he could have had even more, if some of his searing shots hadn't bounced off teammates, especially Giebelhaus.
"There's days when I look up and I see nothing but goalie and there's days when I get the ball and see nothing but net. Today was a day when I saw nothing but net."

Fortunately for Giebelhaus, it wasn't a Winkian blast that glanced off his stick, careened up the shaft and smashed into his face, leaving his nose dropping blood onto the concrete courts. The feisty forward left his shift early but returned to finish the game with absorbent paper stuffed up his nostril.

Sunday's game was the first in a month for Paul One. But he couldn't deliver his former co-commuter, Hollywood, who's only made one appearance at the courts this season.