Monday, August 14, 2006

Valley Oasis Pools on the Rise

Every adult league has at least one team where all the buttheads congregate. Ever notice that most butthead teams also seems able to get away with stacking the roster with ringers from leagues above? In the Tucson Ice D3 league, we've got two of those teams.

One beat us 9-2 two weeks ago. Their ringers scored eight of the nine goals that night. Last night we played the Shadows (foreshadowing of a Babylon 5 comparo?) - they are the other one. The Shadows wear slick gray and white custom jerseys with nicknames on the back. They have a nice stable of ringers in roller hockey pants. I think I've solved the Evgeni Malkin disappearo case. He played for the Shadows last night. Like a any real D3 squad, our Valley Oasis team is composed of a bunch of recent Rookie League grads and two 50+ year olds whose last real hockey experience was 30 years ago on a pond in Minnesota.

On to the game. It was 1-1 after the first period. The Shadows ran it up a bit in the second and had us down 5-2 in the third period. Somehow we battled back with two in the third. Our second goal was a lucky one. Their goalie was real good-and real cocky. About mid-way through the third, he came out to the blueline to play a loose puck. He whiffed giving our guy a Phil Mickelson-on-the-18th-at-the-US-Open-moment. Unlike Phil, our guy chipped it home to bring us to within one.

Now up until the third period, this referee crew hadn't called a single penalty. The Shadows ringers pretty much cherry-picked and rarely had to cross into their defensive zone. For the most part, their weaker players played defense. It was a pretty good system. Whenever we started the break the puck out, one of their defenders would grab and hold our guy just long enough to allow one of the ringers to back-check and retrieve the puck. With about three minutes left in the final frame, the refs finally called two interference penalties. Problem was they called two on our guys in the offensive zone on the same play. So we go down two men with less than three minutes left and those Shadow bastiges up one.

Shadows call a time out and come out of the break with all four ringers on the ice (saw that coming didn't ya?). Their centerman chipped the faceoff down into our end in the hopes of springing a winger for a breakaway. Our goalie got there first and saucered one to our centerman at the red line who wheeled and sliced between two Shadow defenders. He banged a nasty wrister off the crossbar and in to tie the game with around two minutes to play.

We hold them for the remainder of the third and take the game to a shootout. Much like the new NHL, the finish is kind of anticlimatic. We win the shootout 2-0. They hit the post on two of their three of their shots. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

Last night's victory gives Valley Oasis Pools a two-game winning streak and catapults us out of last place going into the playoffs. That means we'll probably play UMC in the first round. They are a bunch of firefighters who rarely have more than five guys show up. We'll win that one by forfeit and then get to play the Quagmires. They're the ones who beat us 9-2. Oh well, I guess I'll have to be content with basking in the glow of our David over Goliath victory for the remainder of this week.


nuts4pucks said...

Props to you and your team for knocking off the dirty sob's. It's a moral victory for true "C" or "D" league players everywhere.

Another thing that p's me off is the 14 year old kid who comes in and skates rings around us old geezers. I thought this was supposed to be "adult" league - i.e. - 18 and up. Now the 18 year old can also skate rings around me, but I don't have to be worried about hurting some little kid if I take the body.

Just my pet peeve and your blog brought out the rant in me!

CasonBlog said...

Thanks for the rant. Those 18-21 year olds tend to be the ones in roller hockey pants.

Drew said...

Congrats on the win. I can keep dreaming of that day, as we always get pasted by the ringer squad.

It seems like the commissioners of most rec leagues are long-time hockey guys who are only concerned that the league is getting its money and not that the competition is level (or at least close to fair).

I remember when one of our guys caught an elbow to the jaw, hit his head on the ice when he dropped, and the refs were going to throw out half our team for going over the bench to make sure he was okay. What a conspiracy. :)

Kudos to your guys for sticking one (however small in their minds) to "the (rec hockey) man"

CasonBlog said...

Same stuff here as it was in Raleigh. The league administrators have relationships with old guard captains and teams that they won't endanger over issues like ringer proliferation.

Chris said...

They're working on it here in Raleigh, but they can never get rid of all of it. I know at the Ice House they try to institute a cap on "B/C" players in the C league to no more than 2-3, but it's not always done. At least they try though.

I think the number of rinks helps that, since they compete with one another they have to make more of an effort to keep things fair for all players. Kind of like casinos in Vegas.