Blades and Breakers Skate to 0-0 Tie
By L. Hayes
When the first two elements in a Saturday night story are hockey and margaritas, it’s no surprise that the third leg of the tripod involves an unplanned ride in the back seat of a police cruiser. But these are the Blades we’re talking about, so you know there’s more to the story!
With two games this past weekend, and a number of people out of town, for once making up the lines was relatively easy. In the absence of Deb and Coach Stu, Meredith and I try to come up with combinations that cover every circumstance we can imagine, and the fewer people on the roster, the less the process resembles an all-night amateur Sudoko session, with crumpled papers, ink-stained fingers and empty coffee cups galore.
We wound up with nine players heading to the Ice Hutch to face off against the Ice Breakers. We were all looking forward to the game, the long-time Blades because we knew we’d get a good, tough match, and the new players because we’d told them that the Ice Breakers bring snacks to share after every home game.
And speaking of drawing up the lines, it seemed like a good omen that Tanya, Meredith and Nina, the first line, arrived virtually simultaneously. Steph was already stretching, and Laurie brought two defenders, me and Sarah, who’d taken her gear all the way up to Vermont then driven two hours to get a train back so she’d be on time for the game. With just one car left to arrive, and plenty of time, what could possibly go wrong?
It is here that I pause, Gentle Reader, to say that if you have never heard any of Carol Anne’s car stories, suffice it to say they constitute a catalogue of all the things that can happen to a car in the city –from the hockey-minded (or maybe addle-brained) burglar who broke in and stole a puck bag, to the infamous sidewalk Christmas Tree fire. On Saturday night, in the middle of the Cross-Island Parkway, the car’s engine quit like Brett Favre. Fortunately, Carol Anne was able to maneuver to the side of the road before coming to a stop. Unfortunately for us, she had a third of the team with her!
Obviously the most important thing was that no one got hurt, but the second to that was the game! While the Cross-Island 3 waited for a tow truck, we quickly negotiated with the Ice Breakers and borrowed two players.
Tanya, Meredith and Nina started as planned, followed by Laurie and Marianne (an Ice Breaker in Blades clothing.) Valerie, another borrowed player, rotated with Sarah and me.
It’s a challenge to stay focused when you have one eye on the rapidly shifting lines, and another on the door, hoping reinforcements will show before the game is over. The Ice Breakers came out hard. Luckily for us, we had the coolest goalie in town between the pipes. In the first period, Steph saved us more times than I can count. Laurie tried – but gave up after the first 20 shots. They shot hard, and they shot low, forcing Steph to bob up and down over and again like a piston engine churning at full speed. She got great help from Sarah, who blocked a shot by throwing herself across the ice in a move usually reserved for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs!
I’ve been trying to actually take a few notes during the games this season; for the first period, they look like this: “OMG! Steph – amazing save! Another one! Shooters! Laurie- Meredith- ! Wow!”
They were relentless, we were breathless, but halfway through the period, the Cross-Island 3 came in like a breath of fresh air. Once the tow truck arrived, a hockey-friendly police office gave them a ride to the game, and stayed to watch some of the fun.
For the second period, with the game still scoreless, we had actual lines. Meredith centered Tanya and Nina, while Laurie was between Carol Anne and Namiko. Cassidy was on D with me, while Sarah played with Valerie (and the other Ice Breaker went back to her own bench.) Later in the game, Meredith and Cassidy switched positions.
Cassidy was a force of nature out there – a whirlwind, perhaps. She covered the ice with speed and passion, and she also had a great moment where, pressed by the opposition, she cleverly sent a pass back between her legs to a linemate.
Laurie worked backwards as well; tied up on the boards, she got a backhand pass to Carol Anne, who sent it up ice to Namiko who skated away as if they’d been practicing just this play for months!
Nina played a smart, tight game, staying high in our zone to block the point and going right to the net on offense. Tanya played smart positional hockey, first with Meredith then with Cassidy, taking advantage of time, ice and space like some kind of genius hockey-physicist blend.
Meredith was equally adept at forward and defense, always looking for the open player and facilitating several important breakouts. She swept one pass around the back of our net and all the way up to Nina, who cleared it out of the zone.
Sarah, who continued to block shots with aplomb, also had some great slapshots from the point that really energized the rest of us.
I had one highlight play – and I mean that quite literally cause I expect it to show up on Youtube sometime. Skating off after a whistle, an Ice Breaker & I had one of those slo-mo do-si-does as we tried to go around and instead smacked into each other full force. As I got up, I heard a raucous laugh and saw a little red light – someone’s husband behind the bench got the whole thing with his Flip cam. The way I felt about the fall the next morning was nothing compared to the way I felt at that moment!
But the real star of the show was Steph, who continued her amazing play, throwing herself down on the puck enough speed and force to shake the ice. She got hit at least twice by the Ice Breakers, once in the head, and never quit or faltered. By the third period’s end, she was exhausted, but the game was scoreless.
Instead of overtime, we did a five-player shoot-out, but ended in a 0-0 tie, with Steph brilliant all the way through. It made for pleasant conversation afterwards, when the Ice Breakers invited us to share their post-game refreshments, which included a cocktail shaker and fresh Margaritas.
It’s times like these that make me laugh, when people who don’t know the game think a low score in hockey means nothing happened!