Strange things happening on the ice, my friends. After losing 18 games in a row over the Winter and Spring seasons the Scurvy Dogs face the possibility of - nay, they stand in mortal peril of - finishing at .500 for the Summer season. Last night's win, our second in a row (not a misprint), brought us to 3-4 with our final game looming tomorrow night. At the very least we'll match our previous best season of 3-5. The New York Rangers we're not, but it shows improvement. At the very least, we have heart.
To make this unlikely winning streak even more bizarre, we won last night with me in goal. Maybe that sounds a little harsh but I've been covering goal at my Monday night pickup hockey and the past two times I was, well, less than impressive. Much less. So much so that I actually have a unpublished draft of a blogpost in which I started lamenting how poorly I seemed to be playing and wondering, after a year of this, if I should maybe call an end to the experiment (I deemed it too whiny for humans to be exposed to). If I screw up while playing defense then I have Chaz, our regular and much superior goalie, to bail me out. If I screw up while I'm wearing the big pads? Nobody to bail me out then, my friends. And I've hung more pressure on my team to make up for my shortcomings. It's not a great feeling. I was figuring that in the month or so between seasons I'd hit clinic a few times, see if some reps could help me figure out what was going awry. I mean, my lifetime record is 1 and something - 20, maybe? I don't know.
Then last night happened. It's kinda spooky. Wanna know why? Of course you do.
- both of my wins in goal have been by the score of 5-1 SPOOOOOOKY
- both of my wins in goal have been on rink 1 at Ice House. I've lost on all 4 rinks there, of course. Still - SPOOOOOKY
- both of my wins in goal have been as the visiting team SPOOOOOOKY
- both of my wins have been against teams with seven letters in their names (Raiders/Goonies) SPOOOOOOKY
- both of my wins have been when I somehow managed not to make dumb mistakes SPOOO - no, that's not spooky as much as it's just common sense.
Last night was just a case of me doing my job as I was not required to put the team on my shoulders and carry them by making ridiculous saves one after the other. My defense did a fantastic job of keeping the shooters wide, giving me clear looks at the shots, and sweeping away rebounds. I just had to do my One Job, and aside from a guy banking in a goal in OFF MY FACE I kept the puck out of the net. It helped that the other team had three or four guys who were the hockey version of Nuke LaLoosh - they could skate like their asses were on fire and my goal was a pond but would have been challenged to put a puck in the ocean while standing on a pier. I made a decent number of saves but watched more shots than I could count sail by wide, which to me is the most amazing thing about playing goal. Someone cranks a shot at you from the blue line, which is 64 feet away, at speeds approaching (in this league) maybe 60, 70mph. If that shot is going to go an inch wide of the post, most times I won't even flinch. It's amazing how our minds can be trained to understand angles and make those calculations before you even know that you needed calculations made. Of course, if you're not in the correct spot to start with then twine is gonna bulge. Last night I had the right combination of proper positioning and luck, like when I was screen during a power play and kicked a leg out just in time to stop a shot I never saw.
One other very nice aspect of our win was that our five goals came from five different scorers. In other words, we didn't just give the puck to our ringer Gary and say, "Here, go score a few times." Cliffie got us on the board with another laser wrist shot and then another Mike (we have three) scored the big goal a couple of minutes after the Goonies had tied it up. I can't speak for other goalies but I find it infinitely more relaxing to play with a lead. If I screw up, well, at worst we're back to tied. If we're already behind, though, now my whiff has put us in a deeper hole. That makes Goalie Kit sad.
I won't be in net tomorrow night, as we're short on numbers and I called in a replacement who happens to be much better than me. 4-4 won't, in all likelihood, get us into the playoffs, but after an 0-10 Spring it's still going to feel pretty good.