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Gump tries to regain his composure after being felled by a Nibsian blast to the groin that then ricocheted into the net. The goal was the first of five straight given up by the grimacing goaltender.

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Week 12
Ball-breaker

Shot to groin fells goalie, then team

by Jay Suburb

Gump's pain was his opponents' gain.

The veteran goaltender was felled midway through Sunday's game by a vicious blast that ricocheted off his groin and into the net, the first of five straight goals that buried his team, 20-11.

The pivotal shot, a hard, rising snapper off the stick of Nibs, who was parked at the top of the crease, dropped the numbed netminder to the concrete for ten minutes as he tried to regain him composure. And his nerve.

"It was a pretty hard shot, and a pretty tough place to take it," says Billy Idol of the careening crack. "I think it might have thrown him off his game a little bit, it got him a bit wobbly."

"It's pretty tough to bounce back from that," says Ottoman, who crossed his legs as his foe at the far end tried to find his. "He's gotta be watching out, he's gonna be second-guessing."

"It was a bit of a breaker," says Gump, his voice now an octave higher. "It took a little bit to get warmed up again."

But by then his opponents had rifled another four goals past the castrated creaseminder.

"That really swung the momentum in our favor," says New Guy. "We really wanted to come out and jump all over them. We took advantage."

And Gump's teammates were only too obliging as the spark seemed to leave their legs as their goalie left his feet.

"It was frightening to see our goalie go down like that, I think it really kinda stunned us," says Wink, who's administered a number of numbing blasts of his own during his long career at the road hockey courts. "I think when Gump got hit, that really frustrated us because we were all afraid of getting hit ourselves."

But, says Billy Idol, his side's troubles started long before their goalie got gooned in the groin.

"We had the firepower, but we just couldn't put it away," says the sophomore centerman, who's five goals led his side's scoring, despite a lineup led by veteran snipers, Lak Attack and Guy Called Mike. "We were just taking the long shots and going for the rebounds, we didn't do enough passing today."

And when they did pass, a defender usually got in the way.

"We tried to play within ourselves, play good fundamental defense," says New Guy, who kept a tight reign on opposing forwards all game. "We really tried to make sure that they weren't able to set up in our end and make great passing plays."

"Everyone was coming back and picking up their man," says Ottoman, who made some key saves on the rare occasion his defense did break down. "When they're playing well defensively like that and then they can turn it up court and score, it makes my job easier."

The Stick Pull (Guy Called Mike)
Gump (G) Ottoman (G)
Lak Attack New Guy
Guy Called Mike Bird
Living Legend Kid
Billy Idol Bulldog
Wink Giebelhaus
  Nibs
Scratches: Paul One (healthy), Lobsterboy (healthy),
Colonel (traveling), Slick (parole rescinded?), Pig Farming Goalie (exploitative employer), Beetle Boy (exploitative employer), Elvis (traveling)

 

As Gump struggled in only his second goaltending start of the season, his opponent at the opposite end of the court, Ottoman registered his best effort.
Unlike previous starts, when the sophomore shotstopper would struggle in the early-going, forcing his mates to play from behind, Ottoman started strongly Sunday and presented an impenetrable barrier for most of the game. And his side never trailed.
"Otto played incredible," said New Guy, who credited his goalie for giving his team the confidence to take the play to their opponents. "He really squared up well to the shots, made sure he got the first shot and smothered a lot of rebounds. He really bailed us out when we did get caught."
"Ottoman saved a lot of shots," said Billy Idol
. "He really filled up the net today, he played his angles well. We were only able to bang some of them in."
"I think Ottoman was the difference," said notorious gameshow host gone bad, Wink. "He turned in one of his best performances ever. He came out with some huge stops."

The only player able to consistently solve Ottoman was Billy Idol, who chopped in five goals in a losing cause, equaling a career-high. And while his goals weren't pretty, he wasn't making any apologies.
"When no-one else is connecting, you might as well just try and get some in," said the rebounding rocker. "A garbage goal is still a goal, it doesn't really matter."
But when a journeyman outscores speedy superstars like Lak Attack and Guy Called Mike, it's a sign of trouble for that team said Gump.
"Eventhough you've got those guys, you've still gotta go hard anyway," said the beleaguered backstop.
"When you're relying on Billy Idol to get all your goals, you're probably not going to win too many games," said New Guy. "He's a solid player, but he's just not known for his goal-scoring ability."

At the other end of the court, the winners' offense was led by Nibs and the Kid, who combined for 15 of their team's 20 goals.
"Nibs really came through," said New Guy.
"We lined up well," said Ottoman. "Everyone was chipping in."

Sunday's game was only the second of the season for Guy Called Mike, who's been hobbled by injuries for most of the past year. His fitness and touch around the net seemed to show the effects of his sporadic playing time as his backchecking waned and his dekes went awry.
"He just didn't have his shot," said Gump, of the struggling centerman.

For the first time in years, Sunday's game was almost usurped from its traditional home when a rogue game of interlopers claimed the center court of three before most of the Sunday Morning roadsters had arrived. But they graciously relinquished their claim just before the opening face-off.
Having been based in the center court since the concrete complex was constructed eight years ago, the Sunday Morning roadsters have taken great care of their home, sweeping away the week's garbage, shoveling snow and ice after winter storms and maintaining the mesh in the nets, while the neighboring courts have collapsed into disrepair.

And it's a good thing the roadsters were at their usual location, or South Park never would have found them, as the one-time sniper dropped by to formally announce his retirement. But the news was hardly a surprise, as he's only played a handful of games in the past two years, and twice he failed to follow up on planned comebacks from various nagging injuries.

Regular readers will note a new feature in the weekly game reports, The Stick Pull, a rundown of the game's rosters and significant scratches. This should make it easier to follow who did what to whom.
"We had an excellent stick pull today, probably the best one I can remember," said Billy Idol of the way the teams were divied up by Guy Called Mike.
"When you see a score like that, you usually assume all the stars were on one team," said New Guy. "It was just a team effort, a solid team effort."