BLOG - HOCKEY & HEAVY METAL
June 27, 2015
8-BITS GAME 14: JUNE GLOOM
After 13 weeks, it’s down to one game. Even though we only have a 5-8 record we are tied for 3rd place with Top Shelf, who also have a 5-8 record. We just happen to play them today. If we win or tie we make the playoffs, if we lose our season is over. It’s that simple. I wanted to have a clear head and a rested body for the game, so I did my normal Sunday cleaning and errands on Saturday so I could relax in the morning before the drive to the rink. On the way there I made a quick detour to Santa Monica to meet Dan and pick up the end-of-season awards he would have otherwise handed out - Dan was in a wedding today, and while he was clearly happy for his friend you could see it was killing him to miss this one.
I was fired up and optimistic, and to add to that I spun AC/DC’s “Back In Black” during the drive down, a cornerstone of my music collection and of rock ’n’ roll in general. The freeways were clear and I arrived even earlier than usual, so I was able to take in part of the game against the league’s best team (Pier Pressure) against the team at the bottom of the standings (Magic Dragons) while I stretched. The game confirmed how much better Pier Pressure was than any other team in the Aluminum League - even though Pier Pressure’s goalie no-showed the game, it was tied 2-2 at the end of the second period. Really. But Top Shelf’s goalie had also arrived early, and when he saw what was happening he quickly got dressed and went in as a Pier Pressure sub for the 3rd period. Our goalie Nick was about ready to do the same, but the Top Shelf guy made it out there first and Pier Pressure went on to win 4-3 and finish their season with a 13-1 record, with 80 goals for and 27 goals against. (Their one loss was against us, 5-4 when over half their team was missing. So aside from that anomaly and today’s anomaly, their record was 12-0 with 72 goals for and 19 goals against. The rest of us had no chance.)
I really thought we were going to win. At least I did until I realized that we were short by 2 or 3 more players that I thought we would be. Several players were still out of town and a couple more were doing more important real-life things, and it limited us to 10 skaters. That’s not as bad as last week, but it meant all the forwards played half the game. Top Shelf iced a full roster, had us outnumbered, and just wore us down. They scored one in the first, added another in the second, and after a scoreless third they were on their way to the playoffs with a 2-0 win, the exact score by which they beat us in the first game of the season. They smartly double-teamed Adam all day after what he did to them last time, and the rest of us just couldn’t really generate much as we were outshot 19-12. It was really depressing, but the better team won, and they proved they were the better team by beating us three of four times we played them this year. Aside from Pier Pressure running away with things, the league ended up being pretty evenly matched once the Canadiens had a couple players moved up to Copper halfway through the season. We finished the season in fourth place out of 5 teams with a 5-9 record, with 44 goals for and 51 goals against. It doesn’t look good on paper, but it feels like the right result. I don't think the hockey gods chose to bestow undeserved fortune or unwarranted bad luck on us - it was what it was. Even though we had fun we simply were not good enough, often enough, against the teams on our skill level that we could legitimately beat.
On a personal level, I’m happy with my effort, and I’m proud of being one of 5 players on our team who got a “silver stick” award for playing in all 14 games this season. But I cannot honestly say that I’m happy with my overall performance, because I’m not. Scoring-wise, I was largely a non-factor with 2 goals and 3 assists in 14 games. My skating is still pretty weak most of the time. Even though I train regularly there were still a number of games where I was gassed by the end, and it doesn’t matter if that’s because we were several players short because you’re supposed to be able to handle whatever happens. But there were some positives - I was one of our better defensive forwards, and even though I was not on the ice when many of our goals were scored, there weren’t many goals scored against us when I was out there either. I lost track of my plus-minus for the season, but I’d wager that it was even, maybe even slightly positive, and I generally did a good job of forechecking and creating problems for the other teams’ best scorers. My positioning got better, too.
Also, my play during the second half of the season was at least somewhat affected by the issues I had with my prosthetic arm no longer fitting correctly. Once again I took off my gear and prothesis to find raw skin and blood, but that’s the last time now that the season is over. Time to go to Biodesigns and get that arm adjusted, and I’ll be right back here in the fall. And keep in mind that although I’m very self-critical, the reason I can be that way is because the prosthetic technology from Biodesigns and TRS restored my the ability to actually be on a real hockey team again after so many years away from the game.
Thanks to my fellow 8-Bits. It’s a truly beautiful thing to be able to come to the rink, be part of a team, and play this incredible game for 60 minutes with you each week.
See you next season.