Friday, June 5, 2015

Time Between the Pipes: The Old Man Learns Goalie, Part 3

Don't think, Meat

It figured that for my second game as a goalie I'd catch the league-leading, undefeated Rubber Duckies as my opponent. We'd been warned that they were young and brash, cocky and talented, showboats and hotdogs. To further complicate matters the match had a 10:45pm start time last night and we ended up going in with only 10 skaters. When I'm playing D that makes me happy, because I'm going to play every other shift.  But against a fast and young team, we were going to get slowly ground down.

I started by getting my leg pads three-quarters of the way on before realizing that, despite paying attention to what I needed to do, I'd put them on the wrong legs. Well, they were the correct legs - mine - but reversed. The pads, not my legs. As each pad consists of six straps, a shoelace threaded through the skate blade bracket, and a velcro strap or two this isn't a quick and easy process. Finally ready, I clomped out to the rink and slipped my hand inside my glove, only to discover the little no-stink ball I'd put in there. Argh. Back to the locker room to drop that off. Back to the ice, where the zamboni was nearly done. Take a drink of water. Realize that I've left on the cap - which at this point is a cap from one of my daughter's markers, and since I've lost a bunch before possibly the only one left I can steal which fits - and head back to the locker room to drop it off. Lumber back out, sweat already pouring down my face. One of teammates notes I still have my bright yellow skate guards on. Hell, I managed to TIE IT IN PLACE with the toe lace. I managed to get them off without removing pads, and said teammate was nice enough to save me yet another trip back to the locker room.

Quite the auspicious beginning.

The game started, and so did the goals. I'd put my pads on correctly this time - well, the second time anyway - and they were loose enough to allow me to properly butterfly. I noticed, during warm-ups, that as opposed to last week when I just stayed on my feet and played the angles, I was now more inclined to drop to a butterfly but questioning when to do so. Given that shots would soon be coming in excess of 60mph having a moment of hesitation was not optimal. More troubling was the ache that had already started in my right elbow, the weight of the goalie stick aggravating my tennis elbow.

Wait. There has to be a better term for that. I don't even play tennis and dammit, this thing hurts but that's such a wussy name. Lateral epicondylitis sounds much more impressive, no? Kinda sounds like a sex move, though. "He thought he knew what pleasure was before she blew that away by shifting him to a lateral epicondylitis." Yeah, that's hot all right.

Anyway, it only took a minute and a half for them to score, although to be fair there was a giveaway maybe 10 feet in front of me and I didn't have a chance. Despite my flailing it was only 2-1 after one period, but then I started the second period by making a good save on a partial breakaway but then not realizing the puck was at my feet. It's tough to keep track of the puck, and at least one more went in the same way. I gave up a bunch of goals on breakaways - there were a LOT of breakaways - which I don't get upset about, and then 2 or 3 that just beat me and those I am upset about, because that's just crappy goaltending on my part. One right through my legs. Right through my legs. Some were because I was getting caught in the middle of my warm-up plight - to drop or not to drop? I was also not butterflying correctly, especially on a slide - it's drop and slide, not slide and drop. Sliding doesn't work well if, you know, you're not on the ice. And so I gave up goals. The final was 10-1, which is not the worst score I've been part of. While there had been a bit of chippy play we didn't see much of the hot-doggery we'd been warned of - they were just very good. In the post-game handshake one of the kids - ye gods, they all looked like they were in high school - apologized for juking me so badly on a goal that my hip ended up in Essex County. When I waved it off he said they should have been playing a division or two higher, a sort of honesty that is surprising to hear in this league. When I told him this was my second game in goal he seemed shocked and said I'd made 33 saves - why he knew this, I don't know. Maybe he kept track. Maybe he made up a number to make me feel good. Either way, it works.

So last Spring we went 0-8 and didn't even come close to winning a game. This Spring we went 2-6 and  were at least competitive in almost all of them, including this one. My regular goalie will be back for Summer and I'll hit some clinics to keep learning while shifting back to defense. Giving up 16 goals in two games isn't great but hey, you gotta start somewhere.

(The quote up top is from Bull Durham, which I shouldn't have to tell you. If you haven't seen it you should. I will not, however, accept the nickname 'Nuke.' You may call me Ebby Calvin, though).

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