Gang Green Hockey

First, a little history. Back in January 2001, six months after moving to Charlotte, I decided to start a hockey team after having played for a season in the local league. I assembled a team of talent ranging from guys who couldn't ice skate without using the stick as a third leg, to a guy that played with Chris Chelios (he's really good and headed to the Hall of Fame and stuff) in college. Stacked heavily in favor of players toward the former end of the spectrum, rather than the latter, we found ourselves as perpetual cellar-dwellers.

As time went on, we built some fairly successful teams, and eventually made it to several championship games. However, we seem to be the Buffalo Bills of Charlotte C League Hockey. We've never, in our 22 seasons (we play 3 seasons per year) been able to bring home the C Cup:
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Now, if you know anything about the movie business... rain means change. We have recently been locked for the last year and a half in what has been one of the worst droughts in the history of the city of Charlotte. Well, the recent Tropical Storm Fay brought today 4.5" of rain -- only the 16th time since 1878 that more than 4 inches of rain has fallen in a single day in Charlotte. In fact, according to the forecast, it's supposed to rain from now until Christmas. Needless to say, we've got enough rain to bring change and end our 22-season C Cup drought.

So, tonight, in our 23rd season, we found ourselves in the championship game once again. We finished the season 11-1, and had beaten tonight's opponent the three previous times we had faced them. Needless to say, we were overwhelming favorites. Unfortunately, neither team was able to bring their regular goalie tonight, and our opponents we quick to recruit the best goalie in the league. We were stuck with one of the worst, but this would present only a minor obstacle to our quest for the C Cup.

The first period was ugly. We quickly learned that we couldn't rely on our goalie to stop even the softies, or leave the crease to play the puck. They took advantage of our slow start to pile on 4 goals, and end the first period with a 4-0 lead. OK. That was embarrassing. We need a change of strategy, and obviously, we're going to have to protect the goalie... but we need offense. Hmm..

The game was very physical. They played cheap and dirty, which, despite my small stature, is the way I like to play. You play dirty against me, I'm going to win. They had a big bruiser which I immediately targeted with my scrappy play, he hooked, he speared, and he drew enough penalties to get thrown out of the game. I'm not on the scoreboard, but I'm doing what I do best, which is get inside their heads. Being up a man most of the time gave us some momentum, and we turned that into three goals to pull to 4-3 after two periods. The confidence was back, and we were ready for the third.

Things got extremely physical in the third period, with both teams clamping down. We finally managed the equalizer five minutes in, and then took a 5-4 lead with nine minutes to play. This is our game. This is what we do. I can grind the entire game to a halt from here and the Cup is ours. Of course, I can't play every shift. Somehow, I have no idea how it happened, they picked up a goal to pull even while we were on a penalty kill. No problem, we've had momentum thus far. Then it broke. I watched in horror from the bench as they took that momentum to put in another with four minutes left. Crap. Now were' down 6-5. Time out.

Who's still got gas? We have to come up with something here. I'm on. I can buy us two minutes in their end and wear them down. Maybe we'll even put one in. I put in my 90 seconds and come to the bench. They score again. 2:15 to play and we're down two goals. How did this happen? Time out. Here's the plan. Pull the goalie with 1:30 to play. Scrap the line changes and put in our best offense. Keep the puck in their end or it's over. Scary moments off the face-off but we get control and get it deep. They're desperate. They're diving. They can't stop us, but we can't get the puck through this massive pile of players. Finally, a loose puck on a trash rebound. Put it home. We're now only behind 7-6.

16 seconds to play. I'm on the ice to try to get the equalizer. We stay with an empty net. The draw goes largely undecided, but I'm in kamikaze mode. Defense doesn't exist with so little time to play. We need a goal. I get the puck bring it in the zone, move it wide for a shot, and the goalie freezes the puck. Whistle. 12 to play. They win the face-off but fail to clear, it's on my stick as theire entire team is on me. I know I can get it to the net and we've got a guy. Unfortunately, it's my backhand to his backhand. Nothing on the shot. The puck is frozen with 9 to play.

Another draw, still in their zone. We just need to win it, take a shot, crash the net, and hope for the best. The draw goes undecided, but the puck somehow bounces out and freezes at my feet. This is it... blast this home with a laser rocket and send this baby to overtime. I wind up and give a mighty swing, the stick gives a loud crack on the ice and the puck.... doesn't move. I freaking whiffed it! Gah! Kick it.. get it to my stick, paddle it to the net. Scrum. They get it to the corner and out. Game over. I suck. 23 seasons and counting.

Now, if you'll excuse me, it is time to polish off a bunch of Schlitz. With the weather here, I won't be able to have a cigar until 2009, and frankly, I'm just too disgusted to relax.

Comments

  • LukoLuko Posts: 2,004
    Here's to Gang Green, or whatever your team name is (raising bottle of beer to toast). It is better to have taken the slapper and whiffed than to not have shot at all...or passed to a teammate as time ran out. If you had fun, got to knock the crap out of people and get to drink Schlitz when the game is over, well, what more is there. Season 24 is yours. Good sports reporting, too. I felt like I was reading Grantland Rice!
  • urbinourbino Posts: 4,517
    Just wait till next year, Charlie Brown!
  • laker1963laker1963 Posts: 5,046
    OH brother... I feel for ya Duty... but MAN that was funny. ROFLMAO
  • LasabarLasabar Posts: 4,473 ✭✭✭
    urbino:
    Just wait till next year, Charlie Brown!
    AAAAAAAAGGGGHH!
  • dutyjedutyje Posts: 2,263
    While I was relaxing with my cigar last night, I had time to reflect on the disappointment of Tuesday's loss. From time to time, in life, we are all confronted with the fact that things don't always turn out the way we had hoped or planned. I am fortunate that, in my life, these tragedies have been largely confined to the world of sports.
  • madurofanmadurofan Posts: 6,152
    Damn duty, you should write a book or something.
  • urbinourbino Posts: 4,517
    dutyje:
    While I was relaxing with my cigar last night, I had time to reflect on the disappointment of Tuesday's loss. From time to time, in life, we are all confronted with the fact that things don't always turn out the way we had hoped or planned. I am fortunate that, in my life, these tragedies have been largely confined to the world of sports.
    And just think of the fun you can have in the off-season, putting together spreadsheets of team stats to analyze how you can avoid needing a last-second goal next year.
  • rdnstnrdnstn Posts: 993 ✭✭
    I love hockey. Great story duty, although a sad ending. You'll get em next season.
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