Is there anything worse in recreational hockey, (I mean ANYTHING), than having only one goalie show up? This is a rhetorical question of course because anyone who has ever slapped on skates at 11:00 PM on a -18 degree night in January (in a rink that feels much colder than that) will tell you that the one-goalie scenario is shinny’s Armageddon. Come to think of it, coming to the rink in July on a nice +21 degree night at 9:00 PM and finding there’s only one goalie feels about the same.
It’s the ultimate let-down and while there’s really no decent workaround, there are some really lousy (and creative) workarounds. For example, there’s the tried and true method of tying a jersey under the crossbar and the shooters must hit the jersey. There’s the option of turning the net around backwards and having to shoot the puck off the end boards so that it deflects into the open net from behind. Having a skater play net happens occasionally when there is one guy present who is just crazy enough to consider going in there with no equipment. Mostly the first two options are just too much work for the average pickup game, the player-playing-net is just stupid and so the default approach of having to ring the puck of one of the net’s pipes is usually chosen.
Not being a person who’s ever had their dog hit by a car, I’m guessing the one-goalie scenario feels a bit like that. Your day is going along just fine until you get to the rink and then, if you’re like me and are always one of the last guys there, you find out there’s only one keeper. Your heart beat changes. Your mouth gets kind of chalky dry as you try and hold it together. However, like the dog scenario, you have a choice. You can give up and go home, which I’ve done a number of times and it’s not a bad option, or you can stay and shoot limp wrist shots at goal posts and generally not work hard enough to even feel like drinking beer after the game.
A one-goalie game generally has the speed of a spoon falling over in cake batter. Given that rec hockey, especially that played by oldtimers, is generally pretty slow anyway, this is really saying something. The good conscience in most leagues generally results in the single goalie present being shared and switching ends every 10 minutes or so. Most of the time the team shooting on the empty net scores far less goals because the team who is shooting on the goalie tends to work much harder since that’s their part of the game to have fun, and no one can ever hit a goal post unless it’s by accident, right?. Backchecking, not a common practice in any rec league, is mostly non-existent with a single-goalie game – seriously, who wants to chase a guy down the ice to prevent him from taking a shot at a goal post he’s never going to hit anyway? It’s bad enough having to do it when you’ve got a goalie back there who is actually looking forward to stopping the shot.
If you can think of anything worse let me know. I’ve got a couple others that are close but I think they rank a little lower on the awful scale. How about getting to the rink with only one skate? No jock? Getting there 20 minutes after the game has started and knowing it will take you 10 to get dressed and knowing the ice time is only 50 minutes? How about breaking that new $100 stick on your first shift? (or second or third shift?). Taking a shot off the foot that hurts so bad you wanna die? I’m betting none of these top the missing goalie scenario but that’s just me.