The Stick Pull (Living Legend)
Scratches: Wink (unsanctioned injury), Ottoman (unsanctioned sex), Rudy (cracked cheekbone), Colonel (healthy scratch), Gump (familial pressures), Bird (familial pressures), Beetle Boy (exploitative employer)
Despite a lopsided 20-9 score, Sunday's game provided a taste of what's
in store for the Stanley Stick Championship, as both teams battled hard
to the last goal.
"The score wasn't really indicative," said New Guy, who overcame a rocky start between the pipes to make a number of key saves late and give his team a chance to get back in the game. "Our guys didn't give up. Bulldog kept trying, Kid was trying to get open but the ball just wasn't getting to him."
"We were down early and we were down big, but nobody wanted to give up," said Paul One, who was a surprise starter after complaining of a back injury earlier in the week. "We had our chances, but we didn't capitalize."
"We just kept plugging away, we had a ton of chances," said Bulldog.
But for every scoring chance, Pig Farming Goalie seemed to have an answer, as the sophomore shotstopper played one of his strongest games of the season, smothering rebounds and diving across the crease despite a flaccid ankle still sore from an injury he suffered playing unsanctioned floor hockey.
"I feel confidence come back," said the agrarian goaltender. "I see ball pretty well, I feel pretty solid on shots and I wasn't letting out a lot of rebounds."
"PFG's positioning was awesome today," said Paul One, who was thwarted by his netminding nemesis on at least two breakaways. "He didn't show anything. I was looking for anything to shoot at, and I couldn't see a thing."
"Any momentum we were trying to get, PFG snuffed out really quickly," said New Guy.
"He just stood on his head today," said Bulldog of the barnyard ballstopper. "That was the key difference today, having a great goalie behind you, you team will play very differently."
Indeed, buoyed by Pig Farmer's acrobatics, his side stormed the offensive zone, cycling the ball back to the point, driving hard to the crease. Lobsterboy, making a rare start as a forward, ripped a half dozen goals, including a crafty wraparound that left a bewildered New Guy wallowing against the opposite post. Nibs kept his shots hard and low, and was rewarded with six scores of his own. And Hoops was a tireless dervish, swooping relentlessly towards the net, sweeping at the ball even when the diminutive dynamo was knocked to the ground.
"He really doesn't give up," said New Guy of the young rookie. "He can be playing from his knees, and he's still going after the ball, trying to make a play in front."
The winners of Sunday's game may have been inspired by the surprise
return of Hollywood, who finally made good on his many previous pledges
to come back. It was his first game since a single guest appearance two
years ago, and while it didn't come soon enough in the season to earn
his eligibility for the Stanley Stick Championship, he said it was important
to reassert his stamp on the game he once dominated.
"I thought I'd come out, show the folks I'm still around," said Hollywood, who started the game on an all-veteran line with Lobsterboy and the Living Legend. "I'm not washed up yet."
"I don't think he missed a beat," said Paul One of his co-commuter's comeback. "He was solid and I think it was good for the young guys who've never seen him play before to find out what Hollywood is all about."
Especially after the flamboyant star was named one of the game's all-time greats only two weeks ago, in a poll of fellow veterans. That honor may have influenced his decision, admitted Hollywood.
"I read the press, and I know I've been getting a bad rap," said the aging star, who's accolades came with an asterix, as some roadsters criticized him for slinking away from the game he once dominated to slide around playing unsanctioned ice hockey. "You hate to see people talk about a black mark on your record. I don't wanna leave the game with a black mark."
Not that he's going anywhere. Hollywood indicated Sunday's game could be the first of more to come next season.
"We'll see," said the filmstar forward. "I felt pretty good."