Wednesday, August 31, 2011

STOP THE NEXT PUCK

So, I'm not gonna lie. I've been in the dumps about my game lately. Like, as way down in the dumps as I've ever been. I've dreaded coming to the rink. I've had to lie to myself that hockey is fun. I was to the point of wondering what's next for me and how much could I get for selling my pads.

Of course, every time I think about that, I eventually get to, "Well, you still have to get exercise, so you'll have to ... Zumba or some shit. And that will make you want to throw yourself in front of a bus. So you might as well man up and keep playing hockey even though you suck."

But occasionally the hockey gods throw a girl a bone and let my body do what I want it to do on the ice. And that results in a good game. Tonight, the good game, combined with good games all around by my teammates, who are rock stars, resulted in my second ever shutout.

I love that word: shutout. Shutout. Shutoutshutoutshutoutshutoutttttttttttt..... 

You don't even know (unless you've struggled in net for months on end like I have lately) how much I needed that. I'll stop well short of saying I got my mojo back, but at the very least, it gives me a little hope that maybe I'm okay out there. Maybe I'm not a complete joke like I've been feeling I am. Occasionally, I can git 'er done, even with my meager capabilities.

Also, a "I don't really mean it, but yeah, I kinda do" middle finger at the score keeper for being extremely stingy with the shot count at both ends, but perhaps he was too busy tallying penalty minutes to see all the pucks I kept out of the net?

Because, yeah buddy, did the minutes ever rack up tonight, culminating in some nastiness that's going to leave a bad taste in a lot of mouths for a long time.

I should explain, for the boys, that women's league isn't like your league. You know how your wife brings up "that thing" you fucked up 10 years ago, when you've LONG since moved on? Yeah, that happens in women's league, too.

Bitches Hold Grudges.

Yeah, I know I'm painting in wide brush strokes here but I see it again and again. Something that happened  between two women players 7 years ago still affects how players deal with each other today. That's just how it is.

Hell, I do it, too. I've been harassing one guy I played with all of twice for over-celebrating after scoring on me nearly a year and a half ago. I'll never forget it.

That said, generally women's league is chummy and full of laughter and opposing teammates hugging it out after mild indiscretions.

But tonight, things got a little beyond mild indiscretion. It was far and away the most drama I've ever seen in this league, so I'm guaranteeing that it will linger in the history of the league way longer than it should.

So, we have this gal, M, who is VERY good. Teenager, but tall, strong, and did I mention, VERY good.

She pisses off the other teams with her skill, and even though she tones it way down for women's league, occasionally she takes off, dances through the entire opposing team, and puts one on the net and nobody in this league really has an answer for her. So, more often than not, it goes in. Some people find that to be unsporting in this league.

But I've been shown up enough to know that EVERY team is okay with it if the girl is on THEIR team. So I call bullshit on that. There's a 3 goal limit per person for a reason. Bring it on.

Anyway, we're early in the third period and M and some opposing girl got a little tangled up (why anybody would tangle with M is pretty amazing to me... credit to the girl for her stones).

I guess opposing girl didn't like what went down and (this is the point where I notice the two of them to the right of my net) mouthed off in M's face, somewhat aggressively.

And M cross-checked her right in the grill. 

DOH!

Did I mention M is a strong motherfucker? Yeah. Pushed the chin of her cage into her throat, which of course, had people thinking M cross checked her in the throat. She didn't. She clearly hit cage from my perspective.

She went down in a heap and the ref (who, if I'm understanding this correctly, is the girl's husband) threw M out of the game and gave us a 5 min major.

I gotta admit a few things:

  1. I suck at injury stuff. Medical trauma makes me light headed and sick. And to see somebody quite injured right next to my net? Yeah, I had to go for a skate at center ice. The other goalie and I had a chat while they attended to the girl, and considered throwing down the gloves just for fun, since we were already at center ice together and now our teams had a "beef."
  2. I was rattled when the puck was ready to drop again. The longer I went in the game with no goals against, the more I kept having to shut out the "shutout" mental talk and just say, "STOP THE NEXT PUCK" over and over. Well, that kicked into overdrive when play resumed because I was still feeling out of sorts both due to the ill will that had just instantly bloomed during our friendly game. Also, because I felt like this team was PISSED and would throw sportsmanship out the window and just come at me like angry honeybadgers. 
But my girls, who had really gelled so nicely all game, seemed even more fierce and just played their ladyballs off, kept chances to the outside (I can't begin to express how important this is), and helped me keep the shutout until the buzzer. (I was extra proud of Caren for playing D very nicely, and probably for the first time, during the penalty kill!)

And there it was: BZZZZZZ. One of my defensemen turned around and darted over to me and hugged me and I'm all "YEAH! WOOO!" because, like, that's how I felt. :) YEAH!!! WOOOO!!!!

I fucking love being the winning goalie. It's been way too long since I had a piece of that pie. It is still delicious.

So, I guess I won't take up knitting or skydiving or whatever just yet.

Meanwhile, M is suspended next week, which sucks, but I actually think it's the right thing. As much as M isn't a dirty player, you just can't be cross checking other girls in the face. (Though she explained that it was more of a response to feeling threatened by the girl, who she felt was coming at her.)

In the end, I'm reminded of why I'm glad I'm the goalie. There's a certain distance as the tendy. You exist on the fringes of whatever shit happens between skaters most of the time, so I tend to watch this stuff and whatever shitstorm of fallout comes with it, with detached amusement.

All I know is I need to try and stop the next puck.

5 comments:

artandhockey  August 31, 2011 at 8:41 AM  

wow.. good for you.. and of course you had to pipe in THAT video big ;-D....again WOW!

Nick in New York  August 31, 2011 at 9:16 AM  

Great description of the mental anguish of being a goalie in a slump. Also, "ladyballs" FTW!

BReynolds  August 31, 2011 at 10:11 AM  

Have I mentioned lately how much I love reading your work when you are revved up? Well, I do. So there.

Jeanne  September 1, 2011 at 3:27 AM  

Hi. You don't know me but I root for you (through the internet, don't worry I'm not stalking you at the rink) There's not a lot of hockey where I live and I love it with a passion. So the fact that you're a girl. Who plays hockey. And is a goalie. Who writes wonderfully! Well that's like quadruple the awesomeness. Hang in there. We love reading about your ups as well as your downs.

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