a wan smile despite a steady downpour that kept attendance at the
slippery road hockey courts to the minimum required for an official
sets up comebacks
by Jay Suburb
It was the best of times, on the worst of days. And for
a pair of lapsed roadsters, it was the perfect opportunity to ease their
way into comebacks.
Ottoman and the Colonel took advantage of the driving
downpour that kept attendance down, but spirits up, to lead their team
to a 25-21 comeback win.
With only eight players braving the foul conditions, and
no substitutes to spell off tired legs, nobody was prepared to take
the game too seriously. And with the pressure off, the returning roadsters
could relax and find their game legs.
"It makes it easier to step back in a game like this,"
says Ottoman, who hadn't played for two months. "It's kind of like
a scrimmage or something, like pond hockey. Sure, everyone wants to
win, but they're just having a good time out there."
"I haven't played in a long time, so coming in today
is good," says the Colonel, who had been sidelined by injury and
travel since the Shrimp Ring Bowl. "It was probably the easiest
for me to be out there out of everybody. There's not a whole lot of
pressure out there."
"We're just playing for the enjoyment of the game,"
says Lobsterboy, who defied his detractors who had recently been questioning
his commitment to the game by making his second straight start.
But as the shelled shotstopper and his soggy mates discovered,
a little too much fun can spoil the party.
After jumping out to a quick lead, largely on the strength
of Kid's persistence in the offensive zone, and Bird's knack for knocking
unlikely passes out of midair, the freewheeling upstarts seemed well
on their way. They started to goof off, making the extra pass, sliding
on the slick concrete to make defensive plays instead of properly taking
the man. That is, when they bothered with defense at all.
"We just took it too lightheartedly," says Lobsterboy.
"We were winning and we were trying some new things. You saw Unabomber
taking the ball and moving it up, you saw Bird winding up with his big
shot from the point. It was more like practice."
"The other team really did burn themselves out in
the first half," says Ottoman. "They were trying to run around,
Kid was sliding around all over the place, and I think they just really
wore themselves out."
Up 15-14 heading into the final period, the upstarts stopped
playing and allowed six straight goals. They never recovered.
"The other team seemed to be weighted down by the
rain and their soggy gear," says the Colonel. "They stopped
moving, and our slowness caught up to theirs."
"Our team played a really steady game," says
Ottoman. "We started out kinda slow, but we stuck to the gameplan,
everyone played their role and pulled it together."
The Stick Pull
Slick (legal problems), Cowboy Bill (unsanctioned baseball), Wink
(exploitative employer), Giebelhaus (exploitative employer), Paul
One (unsanctioned activity), Pig Farming Goalie (exploitative
employer), Beetle Boy (weather woes), New Guy (exploitative employer),
Elvis (weather woes), Billy Idol (weather woes), Gump (exploitative
employer), Lak Attack (unsanctioned activity)
While Sunday's rainstorm, sparse turnout and lazy atmosphere may have
been ideal for a couple of lapsed roadsters looking to recapture their
game legs, they also may have given them false hope.
Both the Colonel and Ottoman struggled early. The feisty forward didn't
score until the game was almost half over, while the sophomore shotstopper
battled the ball whenever it rolled around his feet, giving up a number
of goals to lazy rebounds.
"Today is not a good game for us to judge, it's a warm-up,"
said Lobsterboy. "If it's a beautiful weekend, it's going
to be a lot, lot harder."
"Everyone is taking it easy," conceded Ottoman. "You see
a lot more odd-man rushes. It's kinda like pond hockey."
Another roadster who benefited from the soggy pace was the Living
Legend, who accounted for nearly half his team's offense, including the
game-winner on a wraparound that caught Lobsterboy out of position.
"Hats off to the Legend," said Lobsterboy of his longtime nemesis.
"His famous shot from the corner was a good one, and his backhand
breakaway, that was a really classic goal."
"The Legend's mojo got us going," said the Colonel.
Sunday's sparse turnout was disappointing for the players who braved
the storm. Especially as rain games have been more the norm during this
soggy season, and most roadsters have rarely flinched. A game two weeks
ago, in similarly challenging conditions, attracted almost two full lines
of players for each team.
"It's a wet day, a rainy day; it's good to see the committed guys
out," said the Colonel, who cast aside his trepidation when the first
drops started to fall as he departed for the hockey courts.
"It was miserable, my shoes are full of water," said Lobsterboy.
"But it's great to come out. I think it's just the joy of the game."
Although notorious gameshow host gone bad, Wink, was officially listed
as a scratch, he did take the pre-game warm-up before departing to service
the onerous demands of exploitative employer.