Thursday, December 31, 2009

Yo – Penalty Shots

Word is that a couple of NHL teams played last night and one team was awarded two penalty shots and scored on both of them.

True, true. The Sharks beat the Capitals last night 5 to 2 and two of the Sharks goals were scored on penalty shots. At 16:37 of the second period Clowe scored his tenth goal of the season on Neuvirth and Thornton later got his eleventh of the season on him at 8:08 of the third. Both shooters went high on Neuvirth. Bet he’ll work on that in his next practice.

Ohhh, you betcha!

Even still, I thought Ovechkin’s twenty-sixth goal of the season, scored in the third was just dynamite. This guy is something unbelievable and I love the way he plays. All balls and nothing held back. I watch him skate and it’s reminiscent of a kid that Jingles and Bronzy skated with back when they were Bantams (Bronzy was still PeeWee age but played up that year) for the Garden Grove Americans. The Americans wore the old gold and purple sweaters like the LA Kings at the time. The kid’s name was Tim Sirotta. Don’t know what happened to him, but his skating style was so much like Ovechkin’s – yet I see him on the ice every time I watch Alex.

Tim had a younger brother or two. One skated as a goalie for me. He also had two older brothers. Mike was the younger of these two and was a heck of a goalie himself. One of the private high schools around the Twin Cities had him play for them. I played some senior puck with him later and could usually beat him five-hole because he was so skinny – there was that spot above his pads that when pulled together was still just a nasty little gap you could pound the puck through.

But back to the game last night. That was something pretty good for the Sharks, ehh? And that is tough for me to spit out because, as you know I’m a die-hard Kings fan. The last time that an NHL team scored two penalty shots in a single game was on February 11th of 1982. While in Detroit playing the Redwings, the Canucks scored two. Both were scored in the third period of that game on Detroit’s goalie at the time - Gil Gilbert. The first was scored by Thomas Gradin at 5:55 and the second was scored with a half a minute left to play by Ivan Hlinka who was shooting for Stan Smyl that had been injured in the penalty shot call. Smyl, even to this day, yields a ton of respect in Vancouver. The game ended up in a tie, 4 to 4.

Remember “ties”? Crazier than shit but I kinda wonder if we’re gonna remember “checking” in a couple of years.

Two penalty shot goals in a game is something. And to be scored by just one of the teams is even more impressive. It’s something that pretty much only shows up in the record books. Most of us never saw the last time it happened back in that game in Detroit in 1982. Hell, over half of ya reading this probably weren’t even born yet. Who knows how many of us saw last night’s edition to the record books. A bunch more than in 1982 thanks to cable broadcasts; that’s for sure.

But I can remember a game that was even more outrageous. A beer league game that I played in, it was. And how I can remember it is beyond me – duh – beer league. We definitely spent more time in the bar than on the ice. Too many nights where I didn’t have a clue how I ended up where I was in the morning. Ha,ha! Sometimes good and sometimes bad.

Shit for sure this game was something else. It had to have been sometime between last night’s game and 1982. Couldn’t tell ya what year for sure or even who the heck we were playing against. And I’ll be damned if I could tell you what the final score was. But it was high scoring for both teams; like 15 to 19 or something like that.

There were about eight or nine of us sitting in the dressing room getting dressed. We’re all shooting the shit and gagging because of how bad the room stunk. It wasn’t surprising that it smelled that way because the flu was going around and guys had been spewing their dinner in the trashcan and corners over the past couple of weeks. I’m sure I was under the weather myself but even so, back then, I’d always dose up on Sudafed, aspirin and highly sugared coffee before games when I was sick. (Yeah, you guys are thinking, “Jasper, you are just one sick mofo anyway.”)

We had the first game slot that night after the public session and we’re sitting in there and hear the Zamboni getting off the ice and – NO GOALIE. Damn, I think that we carried two at that time but neither had shown up. Nobody had gotten a phone call and this was before cell phones and texting, so you couldn’t just buz or text somebody to find out what the deal was.

Kenny, who was running the team at the time and had just been to the head chucking his cookies, suggested that we ought to forfeit the game but skate anyway. We were scratching our balls and mulling this around – didn’t have a goalie and didn’t even have two full lines and defensive pairings.

Well shit howdy!

We had already paid for this month of the season and we sure wanted to skate, but to take a forfeit was such a friggin waste. Time was running out – we needed to get on the ice for warm ups.

Before we could make a decision one of the refs came in and said that our opponents were without a goalie and asked if we still wanted to play. He didn’t know that we were also missing our netminder.

Kenny, let him in on our dilemma and said “Let’s talk with them.”

We all met out on the ice down by their bench and decided that we’d play and neither would take a forfeit. Somebody said that the rink’s back room had a couple of old blockers and catching gloves that could be used by somebody in the nets.

So it was decided, some gear was found and each team posted a player in the crease as we got underway.

Jingles, one of the leading scorers in the league decided to act as our goalie. That might hurt us, but he was nuts enough to stand in the nets trying to stop shots and nobody else would. I don’t know who the idiot was at the other end but neither of them had face protection, pads, or goalie sticks. You know the drill if it was pickup – no slappers and no lifts; but huh-uh – not here - everything goes. It was for two points, ehh!

We were underway and Jingles was trying to act like a real goalie. You know crouching and holding his stick just so while staying in the net. It wasn’t helping – about five minutes in they had already scored three goals on him. Ditto at the other end. It was pathetic.

Jingles (and his opposite) started coming out of the net and acting like a third defenseman. One time he even skated up with the puck all the way past the redline leaving our net wide open. It was still a disaster. Goals were being scored by either side at will.

Before the second period we decided that we’d just start tripping anybody that went to the net with the puck. Our opponents must have decided the same thing because pretty soon penalties were being issued as frequently as goals. Quite a few calls were for penalty shots too. Jingles alone must have drawn about five penalty shot calls. He was snarling and pissed; chasing people around our end of the ice hooking at will. The last half of the game (running time) he spent more time in the crease trying to prevent penalty shots from scoring then he did for preventing goals during normal play. It was hilarious! Neither goalie stopped a single penalty shot. The two guys working the game would just laugh at us as we took another center-ice faceoff after each goal was scored. Must have been the most “fun money” they had ever made. Shitters!

How many penalty shots were there in this game? Damned if I could tell you but it sure as shit was more than two per team.

Did we make the record books that night? Oh, hell no. Beer league record books? Are ya fuckin kidding?

Was each team laughing stock to those who heard about this fiasco? Oh you betcha!

Did Jingles want to play in the nets again? Probably – but he’s absolutely nuts sometimes and yeah that means the dude walks with wood. Right?

The year is coming to a close in just few hours and I just want to wish all my puck buddies (that’s dudes and dudettes) a really great crazy-ass new years. Hope 2010 treats ya a-ok.

Tip one for ol’ Jasper tonight. Ehh.


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Anonymous said...

two notes:

you are a kings fan!?? who knew?

and stan smyl still gets mucho respecto in toronto. at least at my address.


ps- left your sweater at my parents over christmas. got it back and will mail on monday.