One celebrates his Stanley Stick winning goal, as Kid and Wink slump
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Stick Game Two
Veteran forward overcomes head games to score winner
by Jay Suburb
After a week of subterfuge and head games, Paul One played
the trump card.
The veteran forward scored the winning goal in Sunday's
Stanley Stick finale, banging a rebound past a falling Ottoman to reclaim
the championship he'd wanted so badly after losing it last year for
the first time in his road hockey career.
"I know how long the summer can be when you're not
getting your name engraved on that cup, and I know how sweet it is when
you do get your name on the cup," says Paul One, who capped his
team's 20-13 win and a two-game sweep of the championship. "It's
a huge weight off my shoulders."
It was a burden that wouldn't go lightly. As the emotional
leader of his side of speedsters, Paul One became the target of a psychological
battle waged by the underdogs all week in the road hockey press. Secret
strategies were intercepted by his opponents, disinformation and rumors
floated, all designed to distract the veteran from his goal and throw
him off his game.
"That's all just pre-game psyche," says Paul
One, dismissing the gamesmanship as futile desperation. "We had
everything to lose in that second game, so we made a commitment and
said we do not want to go into a minigame; it would have been a disaster."
For the first half of the game, it almost was, as his
side spotted the underdogs an 8-4 advantage. Lobsterboy seemed to be
fighting the evil orange plastic ball, smashing his stick in frustration
after the Living Legend lifted one of his patented floating backhands
"They got a couple of quick goals from their veterans,
and that really set the tone for their team early in the game,"
At the other end, the potent offense seemed unable to
penetrate the formidable padding of Ottoman, who created a wall on his
"Ottoman was keeping them in there," says Elvis.
"We had a lot of chances, but we just couldn't put them in."
That's when it was important to play a mind game of their
own and not panic, says Lak Attack.
"We just looked at it as an 8-4 deficit and there
was lots of time to come back," says the speedy centerman. "We
just slowly chipped away. We knew we had to get the next goal and then
the next and get back into it one by one."
In fact, they scored the next ten goals, storming ahead
14-8 before the carnage was finally interrupted. But it was only a little
speedbump on their way to the champagne celebration.
"We got that ten goal streak and we didn't put it
into cruise, but we had a lot more confidence," says Paul One.
"All day long we were saying look, we have the first game under
our belts, and if we get two or three up on these guys, they're going
In the end, says the Hired Gun, that's the only head game
"The opposition tried to throw us off our game with
rhetoric leading up to Game Two, but we would not let any of that affect
"I didn't want to get too caught up in what was going
on between the games," says Paul One. "We had to look into
ourselves for our motivation, and not get caught up in all that crap."
Paul One may have been his team's inspirational leader, but their
most effective, disruptive and dangerous player on the concrete all series
was Elvis, who was awarded the Conn Stick trophy as the championship's
most valuable player.
"He gave 100 percent every shift," said his linemate, Paul One.
"When we see someone going out there every shift 100 percent, you
know you can't go out and dog it."
"Today, Elvis really stepped it up," said Lak Attack. "I
think that was probably the difference."
"He was there on all different combinations of lines," said
Lobsterboy. "He's intense, he checks hard, he works hard, he puts
his money where his mouth is and scored all the good goals."
Indeed, Elvis was a scoring threat in both games, cruising stealthily
into the slot to whack at any loose rebounds rolling around Ottoman's
feet. But it was his rugged play along the boards and persistent plugging
in the corners that created offensive opportunities for his teammates.
"I think we just realized that we had to dig with all we had,"
said Elvis. "Everybody chipped in, played hard, and we were able
to get the bounces to go our way."
One big bounce that went their way was a centering pass that caromed
off Slick's foot as he ran towards the net and past a stunned Ottoman.
Some of the roadsters argued the goal was kicked in and should be disallowed.
But it stood, and it couldn't have come at a more opportune time, as the
champions began their comeback in earnest.
Only moments earlier, another apparent goal had been disallowed after
Ottoman successfully pleaded play had paused and his team was in the midst
of a line change when he was beaten by a blast from the far end of the
court. Incensed that his side had been cheated after repeatedly respecting
the opposition's player changes earlier in the game, he stormed off the
court in a fury, smashing his stick into the sideline gazebo and throwing
his facemask to the concrete.
It was a rare display of temper by the mild-mannered goalie, and while
the call eventually went his way, he knew the real damage was about to
"Usually on plays like that, the other team will come back to take
advantage of their anger to score a goal, and that's what happened,"
"I think it was a big factor," said Lobsterboy of the contentious
calls. "Our team just said, well, we gotta win."
While Ottoman may not have won road hockey's big prize, he didn't
leave the courts empty-handed, as the Sunday Morning veterans awarded
him the league's first Calder Stick trophy as the rookie of the year.
But that was little consolation for the neophyte netminder, who saved
some of his finest game's for the season's home stretch and still couldn't
buy a win.
"Nothing beats winning, and it's tough to go out with three straight
losses," said Ottoman.
But with his first chance at redemption more than three months away, he's
already counting the days.
"It's really a good group of guys, everyone goes out there and works
hard," said Ottoman, who joined the league full-time this season
after a one-game walk-on late last season. "You never know what's
going to happen with the stick pull, one week you can have guys who are
swinging sticks at each other and the next week they're setting each other
Sunday's game may have been the last of a long season, but it was
a first for Pig Farming Goalie, who made his premiere as a forward after
missing last week's Stanley Stick opener.
"I not want to create goaltending controversy," said Pig Farming
Goalie, who was placed on the underdogs in case his shotstopping services
were needed. "I was out almost full month and Ottoman earned right
to finish season, and I'm not going to argue against that."
This year's Stanley Stick champions are: Paul One, Elvis, Lobsterboy,
Hired Gun, Beetle Boy, Slick, Lak Attack, Giebelhaus (Game Two), and Gump
Like the roadsters, the road hockey media will also be taking the
summer off. But stay tuned to the Sunday Morning Ticker for any news about
the league as it breaks through the off-season.