Any game that I get through a period or two without letting a puck past, these two simple words pop into my head followed by silent cursing for once again jinxing myself because inevitably, usually sooner than later, a goal gets scored that wipes away the chance for a shut out.
I titled this entry "11 months" but honestly it could be even longer since I've registered a shut out in beer league hockey across multiple teams, good and bad.
This week I was between the pipes for a team that probably (I'm being kind here) is closer to the bad side of the scale and one that I've been lit up for as many as 7 goals in a game this season. As usual we needed to grab sub players from an earlier game which left half the team gassed before the puck dropped. We were playing one of the top teams in the division and although they were also short-benched, I gave us 10-1 odds of getting a win.
The first puck I faced that night was a break away by one of the best players and after biting pretty hard on a deke, I stuck out my right leg as he cut across and the puck bounced harmlessly away. After that, it was the usual workload of shots and constant pressure in our zone.
At some point in the second period we were up 2-0 and once again my brain does its thing... "Shut out" **&&**&!!$%@!@#!!. I tried to ignore my inner voice but I knew I was once again doomed.
The game rolled along and we scored two more. I wasn't sure how exactly this was happening but somehow I kept stopping pucks and my team kept scoring. Now the clock ticked down to a minute left but I knew it wouldn't hold. Sure enough a turnover in the other zone led to an odd-man rush with a shot rocketing to my blocker side. I made the stop and my guys cleared the zone.
It was happening! A shut out after so many months and countless games. I let myself believe and with 5 seconds left, the other team dumped the puck over our blue line as both teams waited for the final horn.
Almost like a nightmare, a buddy and former team mate now playing on the opposing team decided to make a rush for the puck. With nobody on my team still skating, he came in on the right side and with just a couple of seconds left he wound up for a slapper that screamed low to my glove side and... I made the save.
Shut out recorded.
Last year when I had my mask wrapped by Skinfx, I decided I'd leave the backplate empty. I plan on recording my final shut out back there when I retire from playing net. Will it read, "Hockey Team 5 - MIB 0 12-19-18"? I really don't know but I know I'm writing that down now because for this Ancient Netminder, shut outs don't come along very often.