The scheduling gods, capricious at best, decided it would be ever so fun to have me play three games in four nights this week. They also thought it would be in my best interests to make all of the contests be against top-flight teams as well. Additionally, they realized the experience wouldn't be complete without having me take the kids for a long hike AND have me run around a lot coaching Zack's soccer practice right before game #1.
Okay, those are on me, more of less. But the shore trail along the Hudson was gorgeous, if a little chilly from the arctic wind. Lighten up, Fall. It's mid-October. Save that frigid crap for December. Still, it was a bit less strenuous than the route we'd taken last time, known simply as the 'Long Trail.' That charming little diversion features a mile-and-a-half climb that nets you 560 feet in altitude as you hike up switchbacks. Maybe next time.
Game one was last night, the opening contest of the Fall/Winter season for the Scurvy Dogs. We drew the Eagles, a team that went 8-0 in the summer league and lost in the finals. They feature a guy we refer to as 'Mini-Gretzky' since he goes about five-foot-nothing, even in skates. His height doesn't keep him from being ridiculously good, obscenely so. He can easily skate from end to end with us being no more than traffic cones to be navigated around, something he did numerous times during our game. If you're saying, 'Hey, aren't you guys in the beginner division? Isn't that unfair?' I will ring the bell and hand you a virtual kewpie doll. It's grossly unfair, but he gets away with it because he's smart enough not to score goals. I know that sounds counterintuitive to winning, but he's so good that anytime we brought the puck into their zone he'd take it away, skate through all of us, then pass it off to one of his teammates in prime shooting position. It's unbalancing and discouraging, and there were more than a few smirks on our bench when Joel gladly took a tripping penalty on him late in the third. I know, I know, I sound like I'm whining. Well, I actually am whining, but it's tough to play a game knowing that even if we somehow kept it close, he could more or less put in a decisive goal whenever he wanted to. In fact, in the locker room after the game I suggested that next time we played them we should all just skate over to the bench the first time he got the puck and shrug.
Despite Mr. Superstar we played a decent game. They scored on the first shift but we recovered and, if not making them worry about our offensive prowess, kept them off the board for the rest of the period. Was our defensive play better? Yes. Did Chaz stand on his head? Double yes. Still, 1-0 at the end of the first was mighty impressive. They scored early in the second - we have a thing about letting up first-shift goals, it seems - but we hung tight until about the mid-way point, when the gates cracked open, a bit. The final was 6-0, not too bad and certainly better than the debacle when I played goal against them in the summer. Those antics are reserved for tonight, as I don hockey's version of the 'tools of ignorance' and defend the net against a team Jeff described as, 'Really good. Also, complete assholes.' Ye gods. When do I get to play goal against an actual bad team? Not tonight, it appears. See you on the other side, gang.