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Lak Attack always plays hard. But with the Stanley Stick only three weeks away, the roadsters are ratcheting up their intensity, and not even a tumble to the concrete will keep the speedy superstar from finishing his check.

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Week 32
Stepping it up

Intensity goes up as season winds down

by Jay Suburb

Wink's thundering bodycheck on Lak Attack late in Sunday's game may have barely slowed the slippery superstar, but its echo will reverberate for weeks.

With only two more games to go until the start of the climactic Stanley Stick championship series, the notorious gameshow host gone bad is sending a message that he's ready for the big games.

"I think you have to, because if you don't, you're gonna run into somebody who is stepping it up," says Wink. "You're willing to do a little bit more, you're willing to hook and grab and sometimes even punch a little bit more."

As a veteran, Wink says he knows the weeks leading up to the championship tournament are critical. "We know what's gonna happen. We understand the level that's needed."

"You know you've got to get your gamelegs ready for the Stanley Stick," says Paul One, another veteran who tasted defeat in the championship for the first time last year. "People are starting to put their gamefaces on. It's getting a little rough, a little tough."

He should know. Late in the game, he was mugged in the high slot by Wink, leaving him to hobble around the court on one shoe and without his stick.

Indeed, bodies were flying throughout the game. Earlier, the Living Legend fled to the sidelines to gather his senses after he smashed into Paul One's flying elbow. Lak Attack twice tumbled to the concrete heavily. Bird and Slick battled hard along the boards all morning.

And that pre-tournament intensity hasn't gone unnoticed by the rookies.

"It's definitely raised," says Elvis. "Everybody steps up their game at the same time, everyone tries that much harder."

But, says Wink, they ain't seen nothing yet.

"I think the young guys have been great additions, but they're gonna find it a little more intense, a little more physical. It will be interesting to see how they handle it."

In the weeks leading up to the Stanley Stick championship series, nobody feels the pressure more than the goaltenders, said Lobsterboy, who made a triumphant return between the pipes on Sunday, after being chased out halfway through last week's game.
"It's tremendous," said the creaseminding crustacean, after leading his team to a 25-21 win. "You've got players like Wink starting to play head games, saying they can score on you, so it's important to beat them."
It's especially important this season, with three regular goalies
playing for two spots in the final.
"I've just gotta come out and prove to the guys that I'll be able to stand in there," said Ottoman, who overcame a slow start in Sunday's game to make some huge saves late, allowing his side to make the score close.

The other battling ballstopper, Pig Farming Goalie, was a surprise scratch Sunday after he stormed off the courts at the end of last week's game when his team collapsed around him yet again. The agrarian goaltender has been snakebit by fading defenders all season, as time and again he's seen his own heroic efforts negated by lazy defenders and backchecking breakdowns.
But keeping a level head when all about you are losing theirs is a key to post season success, said Lobsterboy, a two-time winner of the Conn Stick trophy as the Stanley Stick's most valuable player. "When the guys stop playing, you know you're by yourself. You've just got to play solid and not give up the first move."
"You've just gotta go out there and when one gets behind you, you've just gotta put it behind you and keep playing," said Ottoman.

Much like last week's game, Sunday's match started to look like a blowout, as Lak Attack wheeled and deked his team to an early 6-2 lead.
But, again, the underdogs chipped away, eventually taking their first lead at 14-13.
"It was very frustrating early on," said Wink about his side's slow start. "We just kinda started late, we kinda missed the first two periods."
Their advantage was short-lived. And again, it was Lak Attack who inflicted the most damage. Forechecking relentlessly, he created opportunities for his linemates, Paul One and Slick, who were quick to cash in.
"Our two lines took a little while to gel," said Elvis, who returned to action after missing last week's game to service the onerous demands of his exploitative employer. "It wasn't until late in the game that we started to play well as a group."
A late flurry by the underdogs, sparked by three quick goals by a suddenly surging Kid, made the score closer than it needed to be, said Paul One.
"We put it on coast. We started slacking off at the end there, and we almost let them back into it."
"The other team just let up," said Wink, conceding the hole his team had dug for itself was just too deep. "As much as we wanna take credit for the big comeback, it was as much about them playing badly."