Category Archives: goalies

Sponge Pucks

I don’t know what made me think about this but as I was out and about today, enjoying the feel of Christmas in the air, I suddenly had this image of a sponge puck bounce through my brain.  Remember those things?  Damndest device ever made.  They stuck brutally on concrete or asphalt driveways and parking lots so trying to use them in road games was an exercise in futility.  Using them to just take shots on a buddy (which is likely why there were invented since shooting a real puck at a friend without full goalie gear on was like using a hand grenade to get rid of a wasp’s nest – it would work, but felt like overkill) was only marginally better.

If you used a wrist shot, and could control the friction they generated against something other than ice, you could get off a decent shot.  Slapshots were like pushing on a string.  You really had to have a cannon to make it move with a slapshot.   Once airborne, the sponge puck became the ultimate flying weapon.  No one knew where it was going, how it would curve or drop or rise into the wind as if taking off from a carrier deck.  If by chance it was a the proverbial ground ball in the infield, things got even worse.  You pretty much had to wait until it stopped bouncing before playing it again.

However, I do remember playing full games with just such a beast on open air rinks on a winter afternoon.  It had it’s advantages there.  Without shin pads, a real puck usually resulted in a least a few stingers.  It moved better on ice and for the half-equipped goalies, you could lean into it without fear of hurting him.

The ultimate humour in the sponge puck was when it would inevitably get switched for a real one (ie. it got lost in a snowbank, the kid who owned it had to go home, someone was just plain tired of using it, etc.).  In such situations, etiquette (yes, it does exist in hockey) demanded that a warning be issued to the gang that a switch had been made.  However, someone would always forget or not hear the warning and fire off a pass or pull the trigger on a shot assuming they were still playing with blanks causing the rest to dive for cover knowing we had gone back to live ammo.  Ah good times.

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Filed under Driveway hockey, goalies, Pucks, shinny

Concussion Treatments Then and Now

Lots in the press lately about concussions and the scourge they are in the game today.  I couldn’t agree more.  Having said that, I doubt there is any way to eliminate them from the game short of removing contact and fighting.  Even then there would be the odd accident as there is in my old timer league where it isn’t unusual to have two guys simply bang into each other, often from the same team.

However, knowing all the good things guys like Syd the kid are receiving in terms of state of the art treatment today, here’s a little story about how a head shot got taken care of back in the day.  I was back in Peterborough recently spending time with my Dad and Mom and my Dad told me a story of when he played on a team many moon ago for Hiawatha, a tiny village just south of Peterborough on the shores of Rice Lake.   (This was probably the 1950’s roughly).

His team had a game one night against Norwood, another small town 20 miles east of Peterborough, and their goalie and my Dad’s buddy, a man named Don Fitzgerald, took a puck square on the forehead right between the eyes.  Keep in mind, in this era, no one wore helmets, not even goalies.  Not only did the front part of Don’s melon take a blow but according to my Dad, he proceeded to fall like a tall, straight jackpine right over backwards on to the back of his head and then lay there out cold.

Naturally, the boys were worried for Don and so they got him off the ice and proceeded to drive him to Keene (another tiny village between Norwood and Hiawatha) to Doc Ford’s house. By the time they got there, Don was no longer out cold but more than a little groggy according to my Dad.

Doc Ford, a man who apparently went 300+ pounds on day of fasting, gave Don a full, late-night medical once-over and declared him fit as a fiddle and good to go home…with a nice cold beer offered up for medicinal purposes.

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Filed under goalies, injuries, memories

A Goalie With Ice In His Veins…Really

No ‘splaining necessary on this one.

Five Whole Is Open

Ice Goalie

What a wonderful sculpture this is, eh?.  Some creative type carved this sucker in downtown Waterloo in the courtyard in front of the Bauer Kitchen.  I see room low on the stick side over his pad.  Is he (she?) getting ready to poke check?  If so, five hole is open too.  🙂

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Blinded by the Twine

A few weeks back, I had a chance to score where I was wide open at the right edge of the crease with the puck and the goalie was down on his back.   His glove was on the short side but all I had to do was shoot it over him.  So that’s what I did.  Only it didn’t go over his glove – he reached up while lying on his back and surprise, surprise, the puck went in his glove because I didn’t shoot it high enough.   I probably panicked a bit, didn’t take enough time, didn’t rip it hard enough, yada yada yada.

Guffaws all around and back to the bench for this chump.  It really was a great save but I had the clear advantage and should have scored.  But hey, who among us hasn’t missed the odd tap-in?  This just makes the post game banter funnier, right?  Next time.  Nexxxtttt time.

Funny thing was, next time came about two shifts later.  Almost identical situation.  The only difference was this time, I had the added advantage of having been robbed (and embarrassed) by the tender just minutes before.   I had all freakin’ day this second time around and I used every moment of it.  I hung on to the puck just a second longer, I waited until I knew the goalie was so down and out he’d bee too tired to raise his arm.  I even faded back a step or so to give myself a better angle.  It was surreal.  I can even remember thinking – what are the odds I’d get a chance such a mirror of the one from a couple of shifts ago?  Then I ripped it top shelf.  Sweet!

And it went in his glove again.

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Filed under blunders, goalies, WOHL

Shinny Armageddon

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.

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Filed under goalies, oldtimers, shinny

How Not To Score on a Penalty Shot

“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.

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Filed under goalies, penalty shots

Don’t Let Them Shoot!

It looked like he had an egg underneath the skin on the side of his neck, I thought as I looked down at our fallen goalie as he lay writhing in the goal crease.  Not good, not good at all.   The “he” in question was one of the two goalies on our high school hockey team.  He had just taken a hard snap shot off the side of his neck just under his mask from close range at the very start of an after-school hockey practice.  He was really writhing in pain.  I was concerned.  Really concerned.

Not so much for him, but for our team.  Not so much for the high school team, since this was only a practice and we didn’t have a game for a couple of days and we did have another goalie.  No, what I was concerned about was that this particular goalie, classmate and good buddy of mine, who was in what could be mortal pain and circumstances, was also the goalie (the Only goalie) of our house league team and we had our opening game of the finals that night after supper.  7:00 or 8:00 PM if I recall.  Only a few hours away.  Tough to win in the finals (it was a 2 out of 3 series I think) with no goalie and it was unlikely the league would allow us to postpone because our goalie was hurt (or worse) – they just didn’t reschedule for stuff like that.  Not back then, not ever.

However, after ten minutes or so, he was able to get to his feet and we got him off the ice so the practice could continue.   I don’t really know what kind of care he received.  I’m not sure if he went to the emergency department or his family doctor but given the times, I suspect he just went home.   Anyway, a few hours later when I arrived at the rink again for the first game of the finals, our trusty goalie rolled into the dressing room, bag in tow.  It was a great feeling.   We all felt good he wasn’t dead, which from the perspective of some of us on the ice shortly after he got hurt, appeared to be a real possibility.   Mostly however, we were just happy none of us would have to play net that night.

There was one minor problem though.  He couldn’t really move his head very well.  In fact, he couldn’t turn it all in one direction.   We thought and then we strategized, as all teams do prior to the finals, and we decided we would work extra hard to limit shots to that side of him.   Good plan.  We felt better.   Let’s go!  Argh!  Out of the room we went and on to the ice.  We were ready!

It was a great game.  Tight checking, great goaltending, incredible shot blocking and defence from our side.  We lost 3-2 with the deciding goal coming on slapshot from centre ice to the bottom corner.   Our guy never saw it.

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Filed under goalies, injuries, Play-offs