So I was wondering how I could top last week's 3 games in 4 nights insanity (not really) when the Hockey Gods decided to share their generous bounty with me. My games for Tuesday and Wednesday nights were both late starts - 10:20 and 10:50 respectively - and deadlines on some editing/writing side work were going to necessitate me getting up at my usual 5am wake up time. But where's the challenge in that, asked one of the Hockey Gods - I dunno, let's call her Netula, Lady of the Toe Drag - and so she smote my Scurvy Dogs goalie with too many other demands to allow him to make our game.
So. Back-to-back nights in goal. Well played, Netula. Well played.
My Tuesday game was with the Mustangs, who seemed inordinately pleased with me giving up an average of 8 goals a game. We were playing a team that was also 0-2 and I desperately wanted to put in a strong showing and lead the team to victory. Well, I spit that bit. Ye gods, I spit it over the boards and out of the arena. Of the three goals I coughed up in the 1st period two were just awful. This didn't help with the impostor syndrome I'm suffering from every time I put on the pads (not to be confused with the impostor syndrome I get while writing or the different impostor syndrome I get while editing or the impostor syndrome I get while GMing or . . . well, there's lots of them. Also, 'impostor' and 'imposter' are interchangeable, although my spellchecker prefers the former). In the 2nd period I got into a better rhythm and started making some saves I had no right to, while a new player wearing a dirty white jersey that looked like your disgusting pillow (don't deny it) started skating circles around the other team. 3-1. 3-2. 3-3 at the end of the 2nd. Dare I hope?
I dared. And, lo and behold, we took the lead with ten minutes left, at which point the clock began to run backwards. Okay, it didn't really, but that's what it felt like as the next five minutes crawled by. I made a few more saves but eventually their ringer came in on a breakaway and scored as I got some but not enough of his shot with my glove. DAMMIT. The next few minutes were fraught with tension any time the puck came into my zone, but we made it to the end of regulation tied at 4 and I was rewarded with . . . a shootout. For those who don't know, at rec levels hockey games that end in a tie are settled by a shootout, which consists of each team sending in an unimpeded skater alone against the goalie. This lasts for three rounds and the winner is the team who scores the most (or gives up the fewest, to keep you pedants happy). My team suggested to the other guys that they both leave the ringers out of this, which they agreed to and promptly disregarded. He came in second, after I had miraculously stopped the first guy, cruising in until he was about 15 feet from the net. I'd been drifting back, as I've been taught to do, and maybe I should have been more aggressive because the SOB cranked up from there and let loose a slapshot. At least he was skilled enough to hit the net instead of me. My team missed all three of their chances and thus we lost, but my captain was absolutely exuberant because we'd only lost by one. This team had a rough season in the summer, methinks. Anyway, thank goodness for low expectations.
In the locker room a guy I didn't know (and, if I'm correct about who he was, played with all the speed and skill of a three-legged sofa) said to me, "Yeah, during the 1st period I was watching you and rolling my eyes, thinking 'what the eff is up with him?' But then you buckled down over the rest of the game and man, you really showed me something." Uhm, thanks? So glad to be blessed with your approval. Maybe if you backchecked occasionally I'd be even more impressive. MAYBE.
Wednesday morning at 5am found me tired and cranky. When I was done editing it looked like I'd slit someone's throat next to the monitor. BLOOD FOR MY EXHAUSTION. I hit the ice at 10:50pm against the unknown quantity of the House team. When I was on the House team, we went 0-17. Last summer, they went 5-3 and made the playoffs. No idea what you're going to face. I just wanted to avoid letting up the early goal and putting us in a hole. Of course that meant a minute in one of their guys came in on a partial breakway and ripped a shot destined for the far corner. It should have gone in, but Netula took pity and allowed me to kick my right foot out and deflect the puck away. And so we were off.
Much like last week, we dominated. And also like last week, we couldn't score. Their goalie made some great saves, but we missed a slew of open nets. This made me even more nervous but I just kept turning shots away. We broke through late in the 1st and I knew I had to try to keep them off the board for 30 more minutes.
It almost worked. We absolutely peppered their goalie with shots but he made save after save. Our best player was stymied on numerous breakaways. On my end, Lady Netula continued to smile at me as they missed at least three nice cross-ice passes that should have been goals. I saved a bunch as well, but finally they broke in 3 on 1 and a shot tipped off my glove and went under the crossbar, almost exactly the same as the tying goal from the night before. This happened with 11 seconds left in the 2nd. 11 seconds. Grrr.
The tension continued to build until about 5 minutes into the 3rd period, when we scored on a power play to take the lead. That increased my anxiety because I didn't want to blow the lead again, but we (like how I use 'we'? Like I'm the one out there scoring) chipped in another to give me some breathing room and then tacked on two more to finish it off. The final was 5-1. By virtue of having the one truly awesome scorekeeper/board operator (he not only blasts a computerized foghorn on goals, he also plays music during breaks in the action. I may or may not have been dancing to One Direction out there. Results are inconclusive at this point) I see that I made 20 of 21 saves on the night for a Lundqvistesque-like save percentage of .952 (I will take this with a grain of salt as he has the other goalie only facing 19 shots, which is probably around 40 short of the actual total). I finished a game having given up one goal. Unthinkable, and largely due to my teammates who did just about everything right all night. Maybe we're getting better or maybe the House team was just terrible. Either way, I'll take the win. My first. Hopefully not my last.
Despite my sparking goals-against-average of 2.50 for the pair of games the position of goalie for the Scurvy Dogs was and remains Chaz's, who is so much better at it than I am that it's almost discouraging. Still, my knees aren't bitching too much today and I've accomplished something I always wanted to do, even if the scoresheet says Chaz did it.