Monday, November 25, 2013

What Could Possibly Go Wrong? - Old Man and the Ice: Game 6

It's said you should do something every day that scares you. Okay, by 'they' I mean the Baz Lurhman thing 'Everybody's Free' from 1999, but I've been trying to do it as often as possible, if not every day. I mean, learning how to play hockey counts, right? Or maybe in my demented viewpoint, that's not quite enough.

I'll spare you the anticipation and just let you know right up from we lost again. I know, shocking. The final was 7-1 but at the end of the first it was only 2-0 (not that your would know that from the boxscore, which is comically inaccurate). The other team was fairly average, with one outstanding set each of forwards and defensemen.  Our first line had a tough game, most of which was due to being against that group but also possibly because they took incomprehensibly long shifts. Look, I know I'm new to the game and all but if you can get above a lazy glide to get back on D then you need to get off the ice. At best guess they were -5.

We had a numbers issue with 15 skaters. Normally that's a great number to have - 9 forwards and 6 defensemen. Unfortunately we only had 5 defensemen. I finally cajoled Stephanie into shifting to D with the promise that if she wasn't enjoying herself, I'd take her place. I figured there was no way she'd want me to me playing D and so it would all work out.


Anyway, Goalie Alex gave up a goal during our first shift of the second period to drop us behind 3-0. I was with my same linemates - Chris and Jeff - and while we weren't generating a ton of offensive chances we were doing okay at keeping them off the board. Jeff was complaining that he was having a terrible game, but managed a fairly nice wrist shot that almost beat the goalie glove high.Chris was his usual solid self. I had a tough first two periods, as I just seemed a little bit off or a little bit late in everything - except faceoffs. For some reason my idiot savant ability continued to function as I won four out of five . Maybe the ref wasn't making me put my stick in the right place. Maybe I was just getting lucky. Maybe the hockey gods have decided this is to be my calling. Whatever. I'll take it. Actually, out of the Hanson Brothers Shequi probably had the best game of all of us. His line pestered the other team constantly in their own zone and had  a couple of decent scoring chances.

Then the second period ended, and Steph strongly hinted she wouldn't mind moving back to forward. And so I shifted to right defense. Me, who skates backwards about as quickly as a turtle chugging uphill and with as much confidence as Obama dealing with the House of Reps. See, if you screw up as a forward it's not the end of the world. The defensemen are behind you to cover. But if you screw up as a defenseman, there's nothing behind you but a goalie. Goalie Alex, learning of the move, said to me, "Look, one thing. When you clear the puck, don't just give it to one of their guys at the blue line. Get it out."  Spoiler - I had the majority of my clearing attempts picked off. it was beyond frustrating. I nodded and took my spot. This had the earmarks of a disaster.

I started the third period as a nervous wreck. Their top line was out and swarming, but I did what I could and somehow escaped the shift without giving anything up. I place the blame for that on my teammates. On my next shift, something really weird happened. We SCORED. With me ON THE ICE. Later my wife, who was watching with the kids, asked if I had an assist. I had no idea (I didn't). Still, I had been trailing the shooter and was the first there for high-fives, which I almost missed because I caught an edge. It felt really good to be on for a goal.

Not for the other team, though, as they started muttering and their 'What the hell are you doing in 8W?' player basically skated end to end and bore in on me. I'd seen it coming and was desperately trying to get back, but speed kills and he beat me to the outside. I don't remember if he shot it then or curled and centered it, but when I got to our goal for the rebound one of their THREE players in the crease stuffed it in. Yeah, I guess they didn't like getting scored on my the league doormat. Jerkweeds.

I managed to not be on the ice for any more goals, so that's a victory of sorts. Afterward both the goalie and two of the other defensemen told me that my positioning was dead on - I was where I was supposed to be most of the time. Now I just needed to be able to make the plays. I'll miss the faceoffs and having Jeff and Chris on my wings, but I'm willing to stick with D if the team will put up with my learning curve. Maybe I'll get a slapshot for Xmas.

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