Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Dangers of Rookie League Play

Last week I decided to start making the big jump from self-paced stick n' puck back to actually playing hockey. I'm in incredibly bad shape, but I want to find my way back to a league team this summer. They've got a thing out here they call "rookie league." It's meant to follow an instructional session for beginners, but lots of folks with varying degrees of skill pay the $20 to play on Sunday nights. The better players do a good job of not turning on the jets, hogging the puck and taking up all the ice time. A few players however made it deadly sport last Sunday night.

"Josie" was a 4'9" little bowling ball on the blueline. If you were to deposit a beer keg somewhere on the ice, eventually somebody will run into it, right? Well, when you combine marginally skilled men trying to spin and make cuts with their heads down, with the rotund little landmine that was Josie, you got collisions-at least three massive collisions. Ole Josie got right up after each. Two of the guys were done for the night.

"Chad" showed up a couple of minutes into the first period. In a hurry to cross the ice and get out of the way of oncoming play, he announced his arrival by crashing full bore into the sideboards along the bench. I was out at left wing for Chad's his first shift on defense. As I prepared to take a clearing pass and make the turn up ice, I see the blazing red of Chad's jersey hurtling towards me. Despite noticing the telltale signs of Chad's flailing arms and the four foot leg spread skating stride, I continued to make the turn with the puck. He slamed into me from behind, and I as I get back up I guesstimate that Chad is struggling with the "whites" and "darks" team identification system we are employing. I politely say, "Chad, we're on the same team." Chad's response, "Hey dude, I'm just trying to clear the puck." I think Chad learned from this mishap because he spent the rest of the game about 20 yards behind the puck. I don't think he crossed the centerline again. Don't want to get caught up ice huh, Chad?

Chad reminded me of a guy who we conned into playing intermural hockey with us in college. Tom Fayen couldn't skate a lick. We didn't have any gear for him so he wore ski gloves and taped Wall Street Journals to his shins for protection. Much like whoever we conned into playing goalie that night, we also got Tom good and liquored up before game time. Tom's great defensive tactic was to lay out on the ice whenever the puck approached and try and trip somebody-anybody. If that failed, he would try and crawl back into the play. If he needed to get back up, he'd crawl to the sideboards. We called him "Tom Zamboni."

Back to Sunday night...
Finally there was "Becky." Becky was one of those players who want a relationship with the puck before they make a decision to pass or shoot. This seems to happen with women more than men-go figure. If the puck happened to make it to her stick, it immediately found its way into her skates where she pondered what to do next. Forget her seeing you, she continued to gaze at the puck like it was Sauron's Palantir. She also liked to turn every faceoff into a gab session about what was going on in her life. I heard about her son's play on a club team. I heard about how she hated her boss and was looking for a new job. I heard how much fun she had coming out an mixing it up on a Sunday. I think she was there for companionship. Not sure whether it was male or female.

Now I know you're thinking Becky doesn't really sound so dangerous. She's not Josie, the abandoned refrigerator left on the freeway. She's not Chad the unguided human missile. No, Becky waited until after the game to work her deadly magic. We file into the locker room, off comes her sweater and shoulderpads, and we all discover she's wearing a black, lacy camisole-a camisole that barely contained her gravity-challenged breastusus. Down come her breezers and we all discover that the western custom of women shaving their legs is not as widespread as we thought. Becky must have abandoned the custom around 1973.

Tonight, I think I'll dress in the parking lot.

PM UPDATE-An AWard hat trick tonight-a goal, an assist, and a collision (Ryan Smyth sweater guy went down, I stayed upright). Josie wasn't there. Reports say she was still having headaches from last Sunday's collisions. Chad played wing and got a goal on a pass from me. I think it looked to everybody else like I meant to pass the puck. I think only I know it was really a shot attempt.

Becky dressed in the other locker room-THANK GOD!

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