So, third game in four nights. The evening off had helped to lessen some of the creaking from my old bones, and I figured I'd be set anyway as my team has a roster with 17 skaters on it. Hell, just to be safe I told one of the subs to come as well. Now if all 18 showed up that would have made for a crowded bench and there would have been kvetching about playing time. There's never really enough of it, is there?
Well . . .
I use a service called Teamsnap to keep things semi-organized for the Scurvy Dogs. It lets me send out group emails, tracks our schedule and sends out reminders, and, perhaps most importantly, lets everyone mark their availability (or lack thereof) in one place so we have an idea what kind of numbers we're going to have. I didn't think we'd have a full squad - we almost never do - but my hope was that they're be enough players so that if I needed to skip a shift, it wouldn't be a problem. Because, again, who wouldn't want more playing time?
Well . . .
Little green checkmarks that meant people were coming kept changing to red no-shows. At the drop of the puck we had nine players. Nine. How'd we get there?
out - in Texas
out - unknown
out - in Scotland
out - sick
out - wife had to give lecture, had to watch kids
out - unknown
out - seeing Anthrax (or some other metal band)
out - unknown
out - showed up to play but forgot his pants. I cannot make these things up. He forgot his hockey pants. Of course he was a defenseman. Why does that matter? Read on, my friend. Read on.
So, what does a reduced roster mean? Well, leaving the goalie out of the whole equation, nine skaters breaks up best as two sets of forward lines (three players each) and the three defensemen sharing the two spots, which means someone is always going to be doubleshifting. To exacerbate the quandary one of my fellow defensemen, a little bit older but the best of us anyway, admitted he was feeling 'a little under the weather' and would appreciate it if we could give him breaks if he needed them. Right. So, our games are 45 minutes long and since you have two defensemen on the ice at all times that means there's 90 total minutes of playing time to be accounted for. Between three players. Including one who wasn't feeling well. Ye gods.
I have no idea how much time I actually played. Kind of a blur, really. I know I started the 3rd period and didn't come off until over six minutes had elapsed, which is regoddamndiculous. Bad things happened during that time as our opponents scored twice - the first two goals of one of the most enjoyable games I've ever played in. It was evenly matched for the most part, but it's with stunned recollection that I say we absolutely dominated the first ten minutes of the game. Crushed it. Made them feel like, well, like we usually do in the first ten minutes of the game, scrambling around as the other team keeps the puck in for what seems like an eternity. We did everything right, everything - except score. I made the best pass of my life to a wide-open teammate but the ensuing shot hit the post. The goalie made saves on shots he never saw. Chaz was terrific too, and it was 0-0 until the 3rd. We finally bashed one in with 2 minutes left and pulled the goalie, but they tacked on an empty netter and I had the only loss out of the three this week that bothered me (I'm choosing to ignore that my teams were outscored 16-1. Irrelevant. It would be boorish of you to mention it again. Boorish). It was a game we could have won, maybe should have. I'm willing to shoulder a good chunk of the blame. I had a great first periods, methinks, but as the game wore on I started to miss passes, overskate pucks, make lousy passes of my own, and torpedoed a power play chance in the 2nd. Fatigue? Maybe. Getting accidentally slewfooted by a teammate didn't help either, but in the end I still had the familiar joy that always grips me when I take the ice. A win would have been cool, though. Maybe next time.
My legs put up a mild protest when I got up at 5am, but either I'm in shape or the naproxin is keeping them in check for now. I reckon I'll know the answer to that in a few hours when it wears off.