As NHL training camps kick into gear, my own beer league season is under way as well. This weekend, I have a gruelling four games in a row Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Gruelling, if only for the fact that I am personally feeling older and slower pretty much every time I step on the ice.
Friday, North Vancouver
9:45 on a Friday night. There are not many worse time slots for a beer-league hockey game. Friday evening is the time of the week when one likes to wind down, relax and perhaps have a few after-work adult beverages. In the case of my Left Winger, Bidzy, it was the day of his annual work golf tournament. So, whereas I showed up to the rink only feeling slightly lazy, Bidzy showed up with post-golfing "glow". This did not bode well. When we saw our change room filled with only eight other skaters, we knew we were in trouble.
The Vancouver Flying Vees are populated mainly with artist types, a lot of ex-musicians (a few still active) the majority of whom have now settled down with wives and kids. The leader of the Vees is goaltender Grant Lawrence, pictured above. He's a host on CBC Radio as well as an award winning author. In fact his new book, released next month is about his life as a beer league goaltender titled, "The Lonely End of the Rink".
On this night, the Flying Vees would be grounded. It wasn't the fact that we had only two lines where we usually have three, it was just a general team malaise. It was one of those games when the puck seemed to be bouncing on us, and we just couldn't catch a break. Honestly, this game had the intensity level of a bad scrimmage. Nothing there. It's our own faults for not generating intensity and instead sitting back and letting the melancholy of a late Friday night overtake us.
This is my one of two teams where I should and usually do produce more offensively. It's a good 6 or 8 division levels below my other team The Generals. In fact, my entire line this evening are all Generals, with Bidzy and Kellen rounding out the trio. After getting behind 2-0 fairly quickly, the Vees had minimal push-back. I would put a half-slapper threw a defenceman's legs on a three on two rush to beat the goalie (you had better score when shooting and not dishing the puck on a three on two rush). Wobbly Bidzy tied it up on a breakaway goal halfway through the game. But, that was about it for us.
Four unanswered goals would make the final a 6-2 loss. The Vees did end up out-shooting and out-chancing the opponents despite our overall lack of intensity, but we could simply not bury the puck.
Immediately afterward, Bidzy and I came to the realization that we very well could go "oh for four" this weekend. Tonight's Generals game presents us with another short bench, at the far higher level of hockey.
This may get ugly...