March 4, 2015

Such a Long Way to Fall

The past month I've played maybe the best hockey of my life between the posts. I'm riding the high right now. That focus. Vision. Anticipation. Moving easily in the crease. As a goalie its as close to a high as there is.

Last night was no different.

I picked up a sub game in one of my beer leagues which set me up for back to back games. The team I subbed for were outgunned badly and I left the ice after the game exhausted with 50+ shots against me to my own team's five or six. I held them in the game but it was a 3-0 loss. Still, I had played another strong game and I was looking forward to my regular game that started right after the Zamboni did its thing.

My team came out fast and confident in front of me and my strong play continued. The opponent was the best team in the league and we scored early and kept the lead midway through the third period. Then something happened that just adds to the list of amazing and incredible things that can happen to a goalie.

If you are a frequent reader of this blog you may remember a couple of previous entries that documented the strange and often absurd ways a beer goalie can get scored on. Two of my favorites are LAUGH OR CRY and WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE. Last night's events were just as wacky and weird.

In the far zone, the puck was covered by goalie as the ref skated in and I turned my back. I was dog tired after five and a half periods of up and down. I grabbed the towel I keep on top of the net, took of my helmet and wiped down my head. Suddenly I heard the shouting of players and I turned to watch an opposing player blazing across the blue line with the puck. I was stunned. Stick and gloves in one hand, my helmet in the other, I watched as the skater wound up and fired a slap shot from the face-off circle.

I don't remember being frightened. It happened so quickly that the puck was off my goal pants and into the net before I could even think about what to do. The referee raced in and indicated a good goal. I erupted. How could the goal count? Why had the player played the puck after it was covered and the play whistled dead? Why didn't the referee blow his whistle when he saw me without my helmet? How could he call a good goal?

  1. I mistakenly thought the whistle had been blown dead.
  2. The referee had allowed the play to continue when the goalie released it.
  3. I turned my back and didn't see the play continue
  4. The referee said he never saw me without a helmet
  5. The player either didn't see or didn't care when he winged a slap shot at me.

I spoke the referee after the game and he did admit that the goal wouldn't have counted had he seen me without a lid and blown the play dead. A penalty for delay of game and a penalty shot would have been the call. All of which sounded reasonable and correct to me. The thing was, the referee says he didn't see me and the player chose to fire a puck at me. Goal.

Inevitably, the other team tied the game on a sharp angle shot with a minute to go and we lost in the shoot out. The goal scored with my bare face hanging out wasn't the game winner but it ultimately did us in.

Hockey is a crazy game. Playing goalie is arguably the craziest way to play hockey and, as I once again have found, the ways to be scored on are seemingly endless. Add holding your helmet in your hand while resembling the Mona Lisa to that long list.