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Giebelhaus keeps a close check on Bird. But as the weather deteriorated, so did his side's desire to play defense, as they folded their chairs and just wanted to get dry.

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Week 29
Dousing desire

Rainstorm extinguishes hope for comeback

by Jay Suburb

A cold rainstorm drenched the courts Sunday and doused any desire for a comeback, transforming a two-goal nailbiter into a 20-13 rout.

"It's like we packed it in for the last five goals," says Paul One of his side's late swoon. "I think we wanted to get in out of the rain."

"I think we pretty much gave up," says notorious gameshow host gone bad, Wink. "The rain really affected...the team morale."

Until the showers hit about halfway through the game, Paul One and his teammates had fought hard to stay close to their speedy opponents. Tough defense and taking advantage of all their scoring opportunities kept them within two goals of a team featuring two of the league's most fearsome forwards, Lak Attack and Nibs, and the ever-dangerous Bird.

"Anytime you get Lak and Nibs on the same team, you know it's going to be tough for the other team," says Beetle Boy.

"They were working pretty hard," says Nibs of his outgunned opponents.

But then the rain hit, and the game slipped away.

"They just kinda slowed down a bit because it was getting pretty slippery out there," says Nibs.

"It got slick and everybody seemed kinda worried about turning an ankle or going hard into the boards," says Ottoman, who made a triumphant return to the crease after being the odd goalie out last week.

"You couldn't go anywhere except in a straight line," says Paul One. "You try to turn right, you try to turn left, or you try to stop and you're blowing a tire."

As the underdogs struggled with the conditions, their frustration escalated. Lazy checking and sloppy passes cost them dearly.

"The wrong guys were handling the ball, and we were giving it up too much," says Wink, who had a close brush with the fence post after his teammate, the Living Legend, stormed off the court at the end of a particularly difficult shift. "It was like we were confused over who was on which team because we kept making passes to the other side."

"That's what happens when you cough up the ball," says Paul One.

And their opponents were only too happy to take advantage, romping to the easy victory.

"Our guys just kinda kept the pressure up," says Ottoman.

"When you start to sense they're going downhill, you think, okay, we can finish them off," says Beetle Boy.

Sunday's squall caught Beetle Boy by surprise, as he's forged a reputation in his rookie season as a fair-weather roadster, playing only when the sun shines. But, he discovered, the foul conditions may actually work to his advantage.
"I'm not the fastest guy out there to begin with, and the rain slows everybody else down so it maybe gives me a better chance," said the slapshooting arthropod.

Ottoman played one of his strongest games of the season after riding the pines last week because of an unexpected goalie surplus. And, he said, he earned his win partly because of that rest.
"I got to watch the game from a different perspective and see how guys worked, and who worked well together," said Ottoman, who made a number of key saves to maintain his side's margin.
And with more goaltenders available than creases to guard, he said it was important to come back with a big effort.
"You wanna perform well, you wanna make sure the guys have confidence in you."
That's exactly what happened, said Beetle Boy. "A good goalie keeps you in the game. He allows you to take a few more chances because you're not worried that everytime you give up the ball, you're going to give up a goal."

At the other end of the court, Lobsterboy suffered his first defeat in his second game back from his two-month hiatus to spend time with his young family. But, said his mates, he wasn't to blame.
"The team just didn't seem to be into it," said Paul One.
"We made (the other side) look better than they really were," said Wink. "We weren't able to do anything. We just had bad chemistry."
"I don't think they had one player who kinda picked the team up and led them," said Ottoman, of his bewildered opponents. "Everyone was kinda waiting for someone else to step it up."

Bird recaptured his offensive touch Sunday, with a handful of goals. For his own team.
Last week the snakebit scorer helped his opponents when he knocked two goals into his own net. This week the ball bounced off him again, past the other side's goalie.
But that still didn't win him the respect and admiration of defenders, who've been repeatedly burned by Bird's knack as an opportunist.
"It's pretty frustrating," said Wink. "He doesn't even need a stick. He could just go out there and let goals bounce in off him. He's like a great big bumper from a pinball machine."