CURRENT

March 29, 2019

Curtain falls on difficult season

Sunday will be the last official game of Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s 27th season. The Stanley Stick will not be contested.

In making the announcement, the venerable league’s defacto commissioner, Living Legend, refused to speculate on its future. He said players can carry on with games through the spring if they're so inclined.

Legend said the lack of a consistent turnout has taken a toll on roadsters ready to play, resulting in further erosion of turnout. The league has yet to play a full game, with three players a side plus goalies and substitutes, 17 weeks into the season.

Several games were also lost to icy conditions, a reprise of the 2016-17 campaign when a series of winter storms resulted in the cancellation of nine games and a temporary move to a new facility.

While several lapsed roadsters renewed their acquaintance with the game this season, one-off appearances by Pig Farming Goalie, Elvis, Cleveland, Beckenbauer, and a return to the weekly lineup of Whirling Dervish, weren’t enough to achieve the critical mass needed to sustain competitive matches. Nor could they overcome the demise or defections of established veterans like Scooby, Doo, Bam Bam, Ohio, Twizzler and Colonel.

This will be the second straight season the Stanley Stick, the game’s most coveted trophy, will go unclaimed after last year’s championship series collapsed in disarray when Joker walked out of his goal crease and off the court to protest a pair of violent encounters.

Legend admitted last season’s unsatisfying conclusion left a sour taste in many roadsters that may have contributed to their waning enthusiasm. Others shifted their loyalties to alternate games closer to home or at more convenient times as familial commitments took root.

But there were some encouraging signs, Legend said. The league’s ongoing goalie crisis eased with the establishment of a solid core of roadsters ready and willing to strap on the big leg pads every week. And the players who did show up consistently exhibited creativity and resilience in concocting adaptations that allowed for competitive games and spirited workouts.

That’s why Legend said he remains hopeful a 28th season can be convened early next fall.

“Clearly a lot of players still love the game, and the culture we’ve created through the years,” he said. “We have to figure out how to turn that passion into actually playing games again.”

Some ideas suggested by various roadsters to reignite the league include better lines of communication through social media challenges, more vigorous recruitment of new players and a move to a new venue.

The latter may be necessitated if the centre court that has been the roadsters’ home base for the past 25 years continues to be missing one net, which was removed midway through this season for repairs and has yet to be reinstalled. That’s meant the weekly game has had to shift in recent weeks to the unfamiliar environs of the court next door, with its awkward entry gates and enduring shade that contributed to its month-long ice age through February and into early March.

An online recruitment drive yielded some promising inquiries, but they never converted to new players. And the league’s existing social media channels have been largely ignored by roadsters since they were established several years ago.

The midsummer scrimmage in August is expected to be a call to arms to test the desire of the roadsters to carry on.

Posted by jaysuburb at 07:27 PM | Comments (3)

March 24, 2019

Joker gets the last laugh with big saves

If this is Tuesday, you must be my defence man.

That’s the thought Joker may have had going through his head as he tried to keep track of a revolving roster of teammates and opponents in a game of rolling half-court Sunday.

It was a big challenge, said the comeback creaseminder who made his first start between the pipes in several weeks. In fact, he allowed one goal to Nouvelle Guy because he thought the veteran was actually his defence man.

“It’s a constant struggle to keep track of who’s who,” said Joker. “It keeps you on your toes.”

It also meant no rest for his lightning glove hand, which was in fine form, especially in the game’s early going. Time and again Joker thwarted scoring opportunities by swallowing the ball with his gaping trapper, smothering it from hovering forwards prowling for a loose rebound.

“I felt fresh,” said Joker. “When you start strong, you just want to keep that going.”
Not that opposing snipers didn’t find success.

“It’s typical Joker,” said Lak Attack, who was Sunday’s leading scorer with six goals. “We break him down after he makes a few good saves.”

In a game with rolling linemates, Lak Attack said it was important to their tendencies and fire as many shots as possible at Joker, hoping to find a crack in his game.

“You have to drive to the net and hope for the rebounds because you know he’s going to make the first save,” he said.

For his part, Joker tried to be as disruptive as possible, knocking down passes with his stick, jabbing his way into cross-crease cuts.

“My goal is to frustrate as many players as possible,” he said.

Posted by jaysuburb at 09:24 PM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2019

Kid 2.0 pays fitness price

Since Kid returned to the road hockey courts two seasons ago, the dynamic speedster has been more interested in stopping the evil orange plastic ball than firing it past flummoxed goaltenders.

Sunday, the veteran eschewed the goalie pads and discovered while he may have lost a step, he hasn’t lost his shot.

Kid was the offensive dynamo around which his various teams revolved in a series of mini games that heralded the resumption of a troubled season that had been put on ice — literally — by a series of snowstorms and freezing conditions. But by the end, he was wheezing and panting just as much as the rest of the regulars who were feeling the effects of their extended hiatus.

“Towards the end, he had no legs,” said Nouvelle Guy. “But he wasn’t the only one.”

Lak Attack said he immediately noticed his longtime rival had lost a step.

“These days, he’s more or less just another player that every now and then gets a lucky break,” said the versatile veteran who strapped on the goalie pads Sunday.

In their prime, both players could match each other stride for stride speeding up the court and making electric plays around the net, but Lak Attack said time has clearly taken a toll.

“The talent is deteriorating,” he said.

Still, Kid’s presence as an offensive threat could not be taken lightly, said Nouvelle Guy.

“He made a difference for each team he was on.”

That presented an ongoing challenge for players charged with defending against Kid
.
“We just needed to take away his shot,” Nouvelle Guy said. “He just kept shooting and it built up his confidence and then they kept going in.”

Lak Attack said that may have been due more to the depleted defenders.

“Maybe the odd time he’s going to get lucky,” said Lak Attack. “Nine times out of ten he’s going to shoot wide.”

Posted by jaysuburb at 09:33 PM | Comments (3)

March 02, 2019

Ice age grips road hockey courts

The road hockey courts remain locked in by a thick layer of ice and compacted, frozen snow three weeks after a series of snowstorms.

And while the weather-forced hiatus likely won’t get as bad as the nine weeks that were lost in the 2016-17 season, Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s fellow founding father said the inability to play has been frustrating.

“It felt like our season was gaining momentum, with more players coming out and others expressing interest, then this happens,” said Living Legend.

The frustration has been compounded by the bright, sunny weather that would otherwise be ideal for playing. But a persistent cold snap punctuated by overnight temperatures below freezing, has made a thaw of the courts a slow, arduous process.

On Saturday, about a third of the game court was still encased in a thick layer of solid ice and frozen snow. The lack of sunshine at the icy end of the court, which is cast in shadow most of the day from the neighbouring school building, has also been a factor.

After a mostly snow-free season, the flakes first started to fly moments after the roadsters last played a full-court game on Feb. 11. That storm dumped several inches on the court, then was followed a couple of days later by another storm.

The midweek weather events also meant the roadsters weren’t able to shovel the courts to prevent the snow from freezing into an ice shelf as the temperatures dropped.

When asked if a shovel brigade of roadsters could clear the court to allow a game to be played, the Legend just shook his head. The ice shelf is pretty hard and impenetrable without a lot of exhausting effort, he said, plus there’s hardly been an abundance of players this season to construct a brigade.

With overnight temperatures forecast to stay above freezing beginning midweek, the Legend said he’s optimistic the game will be able to go on next Sunday.

Posted by jaysuburb at 11:55 PM | Comments (13)

February 11, 2019

Frosty full-court game a first

The roadsters may have beaten Sunday’s snow. But they couldn’t beat the cold.

The first full-court game of the new year was as much a battle against the icy elements as it was a clash between opposing teams. It truly was all about surviving the sting of the evil multi-coloured plastic ball.

“It was bouncier than usual,” said Coach of the orb that had been hardened by the frigid temperatures. “Certainly it didn’t want to settle down so you couldn’t take it as cleanly as you might have wanted.”

Nouvelle Guy said that presented challenges to the roadsters to receiving passes. That meant simplifying the game to its base elements of taking shots and the goalie and hoping for a lucky break or rebound.

“You just try to watch for those rebounds because those balls are hard,” Nouvelle Guy said.

Coach, who was playing his first game in more than a year, said the cold conditions were a familiar memory of his youth, so he knew the importance of keeping his feet moving while still controlling the pace of the game.

“I think we showed we had to slow it down because we didn’t have the fitness,” he said.

For Nouvelle Guy’s team in both games, that proved easier said than done, as his side struggled to execute. But the veteran roadster took encouragement from the bolstered numbers, especially the addition of a new recruit, Moe.

Posted by jaysuburb at 08:26 PM | Comments (8)

January 20, 2019

New game keeps game alive

If necessity is the mother of invention, the Sunday Morning roadsters are the sport’s Thomas Edisons.

With several players absent, the four who did report for Sunday’s game under bright — but cold — sunshine conjured a new version of the game that took full competitive advantage of their depleted numbers.

The result was a success, and provided new optimism that the game could survive its current malaise.

Whirling Dervish said the two-on-one half-court game in which defenders could rotate into an offensive role after three clears of the ball to the far end of the court or by scoring into the empty net opposite was a dynamic way for the roadsters on both sides to hone their odd-man rushes.

“It was actually surprisingly fun,” he said.

The tenor of the game changed markedly when Kid became more aggressive by helping his defensive partner of the moment in clearing the zone, essentially evening the sides by forcing the offensive team to forecheck or cut off those clearing plays.

“It gives you one more option,” said Nouvelle Guy of having a defensive ally.

Whirling Dervish said while the diminished lineup presented a fitness challenge, it also provided an opportunity for the roadsters to get creative with managing their energy.

“There’s definitely two games going on in my mind,” he said. “There’s the one that I think, and the then there’s the one my body actually plays.”

Dervish said finding the middle ground between those two extremes was the key to success. But he wasn’t always successful.

“I’m thinking all kinds of creative moves, but often my legs just abandoned me,” he said.

Nouvelle Guy said the chance to defend a steady diet of odd-man rushes could prove invaluable when the league’s numbers return to sustainable levels.

“You end up getting a lot of two-on-ones in the regular games, so this was just great practice for that,” he said.

But mostly the game offered a chance to keep playing on a perfect day for road hockey.

“It gives you one more option,” Nouvelle Guy said.

Posted by jaysuburb at 08:30 PM | Comments (22)

January 13, 2019

Big D comes up big

As much as Sunday Morning Road Hockey has struggled this season, it hasn’t in net.

Big D became the latest player to strap on the goalie pads, and he overcame some shaky goals in the game’s first half to lead his team to a 10-9 win.

Big D joins the ranks of regular rearguards Joker, Kid and Lak Attack. And while the young plugger admits making the adjustment from running up and down the court trying to score to trying to prevent goals from being scored wasn’t easy, he was buoyed by the scoring prowess of his teammates, who were able to power his side back from an early deficit.

“It definitely helps to have some guys on your team who can score,” Big D said. “It gives you confidence.”

Veteran roadster Whirling Dervish said he was impressed by Big D’s poise.
“That kid was solid,” he said. “He’s got ice running through his veins.”

Staring into the bright, low sun in the game’s first half, Big D found himself occasionally caught out of position. But he didn’t shy from sacrificing himself to dive back and rob opposing shooters.

“Big D had no quit,” Joker said. “(He) stood on his head tonight and played a pretty good game.”

With each side playing a man short, defence was sparse, adding to the young goalie’s trial by fire. Whirling Dervish said his side tried to take full advantage.

“We were just trying to shoot anything at him really,” he said. “We were trying to get some rebounds and rattle him.”

Joker said he was impressed by Big D’s willingness to hang in there, even as shots rained in.

“You’ve just to be prepared for the shots because eventually guys are going to get tired and they’ll stop passing and just start shooting,” he said.

Once the young keeper found his glove hand and didn’t shy from smothering the ball at any opportunity, his side was able to claw their way back and squeak out the win.

Posted by jaysuburb at 08:14 PM | Comments (2)

January 06, 2019

Past bring new hope for game's future

The assurance of Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s future could come from its past.

Whirling Dervish returned to the concrete courts on Sunday for his first game in several seasons. And while the whirling may have abandoned him, the desire to see the venerable league continue remains strong, he said.

“This game is too great and has been going on for too long to die now,” Dervish said while catching his breath after a spirited game of half-court. “There may not be as many people out, but we’re hoping to change that.”

As the league has struggled through the first months of its 27th season, several lapsed roadsters have come out of retirement or off the sidelines to rekindle their fire for the game. Beckenbauer played for the first time in two seasons, and Elvis and Pig Farming Goalie returned for the first of what they said could be intermittent appearances.

Devish said he hopes other roadsters consider coming out of retirement or exile.

“Let’s see Lobsterboy, let’s see the Two Pauls, let’s see Sexboy and Lumberjack,” he challenged. “It’s a reason to get up on a Sunday morning and get out for a run.”

Joker said the allure of free shrimp and cocktail sauce at the annual Shrimp Ring Bowl to mark the first game of a new year also helped.

The veteran goaltender returned to the courts for the first time since he stormed off during last spring’s Stanley Stick finale in protest of some violent skirmishes that palled the championship.

He said his absence was trying, especially as he followed the league’s struggles to regain traction.

“It was super difficult, especially knowing the part I had to play in the difficulties,” Joker said. “It made me feel like I had to get out and see what I could do to save this game.”

Sunday’s game was the first in a month after the league’s fellow founding father, Living Legend, declared a hiatus in early December to allow players to consider the league’s future and their place in it.

Joker said it won’t take much to get the game back on track.

“Players just have to remember how things used to be and how they could be again,” he said. “Bringing out new guys is important, and they’ve got to know there’s going to be a game.”

Dervish said he intends to do what he can to make that happen.

“I’m looking to become a regular again,” he said. “I’m still hunting for the Stanley Stick.”

Posted by jaysuburb at 08:25 PM | Comments (7)

December 09, 2018

Sunday Morning Road Hockey looks for reset in new year

Sunday Morning Road Hockey is over.

For now.

Gripped with attendance woes, foul weather and general ennui, the league is taking the rest of the calendar year off. The season will commence with the Shrimp Ring Bowl on Jan. 6.

League commissioner Living Legend said it will be a chance for the players to spend an extended holiday break with their friends and family, while feeding their hunger to get back to the courts.

He said he hopes a renewed commitment to the weekly games will be accompanied by new recruits.

“This is everyone’s chance to work on those potential players who’ve expressed interest in joining the game,” the Living Legend said in a press release. “What better way to welcome them with a big game to launch the new year, and free shrimp!”

More than two months into the 27th season, the league has missed more games than it’s played. But there have been signs of life, including the return of veterans like Beckenbauer and Colonel, as well as special guest appearances by retired roadsters Elvis and Pig Farming Goalie. Kid was as sharp as ever during his starts in net, and Lak Attack is back as the league’s most versatile player willing to take on any role to ensure the game continues.

The commissioner likened the league’s difficulties through the first half of the season to the NHL lockout in 1994-95 that cost that league half a season’s worth of games.

“This is our chance for a reset,” he said. “We can put the Stanley Stick and first half of the non-season season behind us to focus on having a great run up to the final in April.”

In order to avoid Cialis spammers, discussion for the upcoming season should be done on the roadhockey.net's Facebook site, linked to the right.

Posted by jaysuburb at 04:25 PM | Comments (3)

November 25, 2018

Colonel's comeback greeted cautiously

Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s most polarizing player returned to the courts Sunday. It was Colonel’s first game since a pair of incidents in last spring’s Stanley Stick championship series sparked successive walkouts by Joker and truncated the season finale.

Colonel said he felt he’d finished his hiatus and with the game showing renewed signs of life, he “wanted to come out and have a run with old friends.”

The most senior active roadster after founding father Living Legend, Colonel’s career has been dogged by controversy and incendiary encounters with rivals and even teammates.

Some cited those clashes as their motivation to retire.

Scooby chose his words carefully when he commented on the significance of Colonel’s comeback.

“We obviously need more guys,” he said. “I think at this point we’re open arms to anybody.”

Colonel said his absence was trying.

“The game is so much fun,” he said.

Still, Sunday’s turnout fell one short of a full complement for a proper game. But it was the first game of the season with goalies at either end as a side of seniors comprised of Colonel, Living Legend and Nouvelle Guy was challenged by the young speedsters Scooby and Doo.

The veterans struggled two-on-two but rebounded from a 5-2 deficit once they had a man advantage to win, 10-7.

Colonel said his delayed start to the season took its toll.

“Chemistry takes some time to renew,” he said. “And your hands aren’t the way you think they should be.”

Scooby said he and Doo remained resilient despite playing two-thirds of the game at a man disadvantage.

“We had more chances that I would have thought,” he said.

Posted by jaysuburb at 10:17 PM | Comments (7)

November 18, 2018

Too soon for game's aloha says Elvis

Elvis is in the building.

Or rather, the road hockey court.

After 10 years away from Sunday Morning Road Hockey, the venerable veteran who retired with eight straight Stanley Stick victories, returned to the haunt of his former glories and he brought with him another colourful icon of the past, Pig Farming Goalie.

They were trying to breathe renewed life into the league after its death knell echoed across the internet last week.

And while their presence meant the game could go on for at least one more week, the handful of veteran regulars had to temper their optimism because the comebacks were more like guest appearances.

“We’ll have to see,” said Elvis of the prospect of recurring games. “I’m not saying I’m going to be a regular.”

“We had a lot of good years playing here,” said Pig Farming Goalie. “We made lots of good memories so we wanted to make some more.”

Still, the battery mates said it was important to make an effort and show the current generation of roadsters the game is worth fighting for.

Elvis said he was inspired by the ongoing commitment of the roadsters who’ve persevered.

“I think the dedication to the game that’s lasted all these years,” he said. “Hopefully it inspires a few guys to keep coming out.”

Pig Farming Goalie said changes in farming technology that means his pigs are now raised by machines have freed up more time but he was feeling wistful that he might not be able to spend some of it renewing rivalries at the road hockey courts.

“It was a bit sad to see what has happened to road hockey,” he said, adding it will take strength and fortitude to keep the game going.

“It’s a group effort,” he said.

But with the return to action of Elvis and Pig Farming Goalie far from a weekly assurance, the core problem remains. The roadsters were also bolstered by the first start of the season by Lak Attack, as well as the return of Kid after several weeks away, however other key veterans like Doo, Scooby, Joker and Beckenbauer were no-shows.

Elvis said he was dismayed

“It’s a beautiful day out here,” he said. “Days like today, I don’t think there’s much excuse.”

Pig Farming Goalie acknowledged life can get in the way at times, but a life without road hockey is a lesser life.

Posted by jaysuburb at 09:42 PM | Comments (4)

November 11, 2018

Childhood's end?

The silence of the roadsters is deafening.

Even after last week’s call to arms, only Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s founding father, Living Legend, and Nouvelle Guy answered on yet another perfect day to play.

Vague promises of players recommitting have yet to be realized with sticks in the pile, bodies on the sidelines. Remember when teams could form two lines and some players would complain that meant they didn’t get enough court time?

Even the comments board on roadhockey.net has gone quiet, save for the Cialis spam.

So, perhaps it’s only appropriate we turn this issue of roadhockey.net over to the commissioner:

Road hockey is the game of our youth.
For 27 years, Sunday Morning Road Hockey has been a weekly connection with our younger selves, even as the passage of time renders us greyer, slower, less agile.
For two or so hours a week, we could be 12 years-old again, throwing our sticks into a pile to choose up sides, racing after the evil orange plastic ball with delusions of Gretzky dancing in our heads.
The game was an escape, a world separated from the reality of jobs, relationships, the responsibilities and pressures of adulthood. We gave each other goofy nicknames because that’s what hockey players used to do and the newly-forged monikers affirmed the divide of our road hockey selves from the realities of our day-to-day lives.
Somehow, the formula endured even as players came and went. Games would be won and lost on a weekly basis, but the culture of the game never wavered, and every roadster became very protective of it.
That’s why we played in the rain. That’s why we shoveled snow and ice. That’s why we played through injury and illness. That’s why we scoured for new recruits when the ranks thinned. Because if the game ever went away, it would feel like we’d lost a piece of our youth.
It’s hard to say how many roadsters chased the evil orange plastic over the years. Some alighted for a game and never returned, others encamped for years.
Sunday Morning Road Hockey started as a bunch of work colleagues blowing off a little steam on a decommissioned tennis court. The nets were spare boots and jackets. The players brave enough to guard those nets did so with little more protection than a worn baseball glove and a goalie stick. One of them stuck to that ethos for so long, he became legendary.
When the courts were opened a couple of years later as part of a school reconstruction, the game moved but its spirit remained rooted at those tennis courts where it was all about running around, having a few laughs, scoring a few goals, then heading home tired and eager for the next game. The very same spirit that drew us out as kids into the cold winter air after dinner so we could “take shots’ with our buddies under the streetlights, or anticipating a snowfall because we knew the snowplow would make the street slick and, for a day or two, we could slide around in our boots during a game like real hockey players, or studying our hockey cards to be able to call play-by-play.
Most of those kids grew up. But for those who refused, who clung to those innocent days, I would hope it’s been a heck of a lot of fun.

Living Legend

Posted by jaysuburb at 08:32 PM | Comments (17)

November 04, 2018

Requiem for Sunday Morning Road Hockey?

Sunday morning’s wind blew away Saturday’s deluge of rain, but the cloud that hangs over the future of Sunday Morning Road Hockey persists.

Even with the extra hour of sleep brought by the annual return to Standard Time, and perfect mid-fall playing conditions, the roadsters were a no-show. After last week’s rainout, that means in the season’s four weeks so far, the roadsters haven’t played as much as they have.

Whether they’ll ever play again has become a real question.

Dismay over last spring’s truncated Stanley Stick finale that cast a pall over the off-season, combined with a poor showing at the mid-summer scrimmage and the cancellation of the pre-season, meant the league’s future was already hanging by a thread.

The return of a solid core of dedicated veterans for the season’s opening two games offered a glimmer of hope, along with the promise of more returning players as well as some new recruits. But on a bright, breezy November morning, the hope that Sunday Morning Road Hockey may have put the tumult of its 26th year behind it and could forge on with its 27th may have been extinguished.

Momentum is a fickle thing in road hockey. Just as a game can turn on an opportune goal, the season can gather its legs with a shift in the weather or a rallying of resilience. So far this season, though, it seems there’s been no inclination to take advantage of the former or to execute the latter.

In days of yore, the default of Sunday Morning Road Hockey was always to play, at any cost. The game didn’t stop because of torrential rain, or biting cold, nor blowing snow. In fact, games in difficult circumstances became one of the league’s touchstones, it’s ongoing point of pride that made the roadsters love it all the more and fight for its survival.

That included building back the rosters through generations of players.

Perhaps, after 26 years, the fight to go on has finally gone.

Convening half-court games just to get a run in wears thin when roadsters travel from near and far. Leaving the comfort of home and the company of family for the chance to chase the evil orange plastic ball loses its luster when you’re the only player at the road hockey courts doing the chasing.

Sunday Morning Road Hockey is in crisis, and only the players can save it by actually playing.

Posted by jaysuburb at 04:52 PM | Comments (5)

October 21, 2018

Roadsters adapt to depleted rosters

The roadsters are nothing if not resourceful.

With the gate to courts seemingly awol for good, they were able to adapt a discarded election sign to keep the ball in play.

And with fewer players than required to convene a proper game Sunday, they came up with an adaptation that kept the action going.

It’s all about getting a good run in, said Doo, which will pay off as the season unfolds.

“These games are really valuable once we get some big games going,” he said. “We’re getting lots of touches on the ball, getting our skills back.”

“We’re running a lot,” said Scooby.

With five players plus a goalie, the roadsters opted for a rolling game of two-on-two half-court that shifted in a rested player whenever a team scored.

The fluid line combinations kept everyone on their toes, Doo said.

“The game changes really quickly, so you’ve got to be really aware of what the other team is up to.”

That was especially true for Kid in net, who faced a dizzying array of passing combinations that had him spinning at the top of the crease.

“There’s lots more space, lots more shots and the goalie starts making bad plays,” Doo said, adding players can afford to get more creative with one less defenceman to tie them up or knock down a pass.

“With half court, there’s not as many consequences,” he said. “If you make a mistake, it’s not going to wind up in the back of the net right away.”

And while the depleted numbers might seem discouraging as the new season gets its legs, Scooby said it’s encouraging a core group comprises those numbers.

“We have a base of people,” he said. “We can build from that.”

Posted by jaysuburb at 10:03 PM | Comments (7)

October 14, 2018

Roadsters defy doubters to launch 27th year

The rumours of Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s demise were greatly exaggerated.

Seven roadsters sent a strong message of solidarity and fortitude Sunday when the league’s 27th year opened with a spirited half-court game in perfect conditions.

There were doubts, though, before the game.

After the debacle of last spring’s truncated Stanley Stick championship series that scattered the roadsters into a summer of uncertainty about the league’s future, followed by a summer scrimmage that attracted but three players, Scooby said he was feeling pessimistic.

Doo said the lack of buzz surrounding opening day, which this year bypassed the traditional two-week training camp that normally allows roadsters to ease back into game shape, gave him pause.

“Nobody was sure if we’d have enough players for a game,” he said.

But the roadsters were buoyed by the unexpected return of Beckenbauer, who missed all of last season because of educational commitments.

The lanky centreman said he needed to get back to the courts.

“It felt like my identity had been stripped away from me,” he said of his hiatus.

And while Beckenbauer’s timing might have been slightly off, he was still able to lead his side to a pair of victories, 5-1 and 5-4.

Doo said the score was secondary. More important was the message the game sends to roadsters still doubting the league can overcome last spring’s Stanley Stick of discontent.

“The game goes on because people decide that morning they want to come,” he said. “They want to see the guys. That’s the spirit of road hockey.”

Scooby said Sunday’s turnout proves the commitment of the league’s core players remains undiminished.

“There is a group of guys here who will be coming out week to week,” he said. “You get some other faces out and we’ll be fine.”

Beckenbauer said he’s optimistic that will happen, as roadsters learn the game is still on.

“It’s infectious,” he said. “It’s just like Ebola and it just spreads through the whole crew.”

Posted by jaysuburb at 09:37 PM | Comments (2)

September 23, 2018

Season set to start Oct. 14

Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s 27th year will begin Oct. 14.

For the first time, there’s no pre-season.

League commissioner Living Legend said the early Thanksgiving made the mid-October start tenable as the game on the long weekend is usually poorly attended.

“Even with a pre-season, it takes most of the roadsters until December to find their game legs anyway,” said the Legend.

Despite the all-in beginning, a cloud over the league’s future persists after the debacle that abruptly ended last season during the climactic Stanley Stick finale when both games were cut short after Joker stormed off to protest rough play. Pessimism for the league’s continued viability was further fuelled when only three players reported for the annual mid-summer scrimmage. Although poor air quality from wildfire smoke may have contributed to the reluctance of regulars to take to the court.

Further questions hang over the status of veteran roadsters like Bam Bam, who missed all of last season, and Beckenbauer. And it remains to be seen who will strap on the goalie pads if Joker’s dismay wasn’t tempered by a summer away from the game.

Posted by jaysuburb at 08:05 PM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2018

Pall lingers over mid-summer scrimmage

The pall cast over Sunday Morning Road Hockey by the abrupt end to lasts spring’s Stanley Stick championship series lingered to Wednesday’s annual mid-summer scrimmage.

Except this pall was real.

Only three dedicated roadsters, Scooby, Doo, and the Living Legend, gathered at the courts in the eerie orange gloom cast by heavy smoke that settled into the area from hundreds of wildfires burning throughout the Northwest. The choking haze obscured the setting sun casting the courts into an early twilight. It also gave the players pause.

“It’s like playing in a campfire,” said Doo as he slowly paced the court firing shots at the net. “It seemed to get worse in the hours before we played.”

“It feels harsh on your lungs,” said Scooby, who’s been forced inside onto a treadmill as he prepares to run his first marathon in September. “If we were going at game speed, that’s going to be a burning feeling.”

Instead the roadsters laconically ambled around the court, working on their shots and doing deflection drills.

Doo said it was their only option.

“This is something that happens,” he said. “We play outside and the weather can do whatever it wants to do.”

Still, the truncated turnout played on the players’ minds. With the mid-summer scrimmage serving as a barometer measuring hunger and anticipation for the coming season, the roadsters feared Wednesday’s lack of enthusiasm may be a portent of the fall.

“I think there still quite a few questions lingering from last year,” said Scooby. “We’re definitely a bit anxious to see how it all starts in October.”

Posted by jaysuburb at 10:06 PM | Comments (7276)

August 11, 2018

Scrimmage will be first test of new season

Road hockey’s midsummer scrimmage has been set for Aug. 22.

But whether the game is actually played is anybody’s guess.

The sour taste left by the abrupt end to last Spring’s Stanley Stick finale lingers. The scrimmage will be the first test if there is any kind of appetite for a new season.

The stakes are high, as this will be Sunday Morning Road Hockey’s 27th season. That season is tentatively scheduled to officially begin Oct. 14.

But whether it’s played will be up to the roadsters who will have to get past the acrimony that cast a pall over the finale of its 26th season when both games of the championship series ended early after incidents on the court. It could be the biggest crisis for the survival of the league, which has endured many ups and downs of weather, goaltending and commitment challenges over its long history.

Game time for the scrimmage is 6:30 p.m.

Posted by jaysuburb at 10:05 AM | Comments (4)