“You skate like Ovechkin!” At first, I thought it was a compliment. However, I had just missed a penalty shot at the end of my Monday night game earlier this week and quickly realized that the goalie who had stoned me, Moose, was probably trashing me instead. I’ve just googled Ovechkin’s shootout stats and sure enough, while he’s not at the bottom of the league, at 12 goals on 46 tries, he’s pretty unimpressive. So…me and Ovie eh? Who’d have thought.
Anyway, to provide some context, our league has a rule that if a team is leading by one goal in the last minute, and they ice the puck, the trailing team gets a penalty shot after time expires. We play straight time so this avoids the leading team from taking a wussy way out in the last minute. This rule also applies if the game is tied. Since there are no league standings kept, this rule merely adds a little spice to some of the close games.
So…on Monday night with the Blue team down a goal, one of the boys on the other side fires it the length of the ice with 30 seconds to go. Oops. After regulation, I take the penalty shot. Interestingly, last week after the game against this same team ended, I stayed out with Moose in the nets for a little friendly showdown action. We both had our moments over the course of a half dozen tries. But this is a new night and as I start in from centre, I notice two things. First, Moose is halfway to the blueline, or so it appeared. “What is he doing way out there” I think? He’s a big guy and so I can’t even see the net. Second, as I strain to see the net, I realize a toddler on boots who had started at centre with me would be travelling faster to the net. In I go. I fake high right on the glove side, only the fake doesn’t fake anyone. I then move left on my backhand to Moose’s stickside, remembering how he beat me there earlier in the game. With one final attempt, I go back right and try and wait him out and go over his glove. As I go right, further, further, there’s Moose, sliding right with me. Hmmmm. This isn’t going to work. Finally I try to lift it over his glove and hit his pad. Good one.
As I skated off, I remembered a shootout attempt I took a few years back in the high tech league after either a playoff game or a tournament game. That was one of those goofy setups where shooters from both teams go at the same time. I didn’t like my angle on that one and it also took me half a shift to get to the net. I tried to deke 5-hole and the goalie, another huge guy, had an easy save. I also remember taking a penalty shot mid-game against a friend (and monster goalie) in my house-league days named Sean Fitzgerald. I started off slow, finished slower and shot like I had two broken wrists right into his pads.
It occurs to me that penalty shots haven’t been kind to me. But wait, there was one a few years back in the WOHL where I actually did score. Skated in hard and let a low shot go to the bottom left corner and I have no idea how big the goalie was.
So…from now on, if I ever get another chance, I’m going to start skating from the other end of the rink and go in fast. I may not score but with my eyes not as good as they once were, and the speed being a little harder to control as I get older, I’m hoping I won’t be able to see the goalie for the first bit and will be going too fast to focus on him for the last bit.