Blades Enjoy Hospitality at the Lipstix
By L. Hayes
It was an embarrassment of riches for the Blades last week, with three games, some great efforts and a little cabernet and sushi to boot.
Two of the games were on Long Island. The first was Thursday night vs the Lipstix. It was a world away from Brooklyn.
Stepping onto the ice at the Huntington Winter Club was like skating in a pop-up holiday card, surrounded by the snow and the pine trees, under the picture window of the comfy chalet with a crackling fireplace…
On the other hand, playing the Lipstix was like stepping into a scene from The Matrix. With at least 20 players suited up, there seemed to be an endless supply of identical white-jerseyed players streaming off the Lipstix bench.
I don’t usually go on and on about our opponents, but the Lipstix were kind of adorable, even before they earned my eternal allegiance by feeding us (yes, I am kind of dog-like that way!) Instead of names on the back of their jerseys, they went roller-derby-style with nicknames like ‘Fast Lane’ and ‘Killa’ and ‘El Toro.’ Though they had to have been freezing on the bench between shifts, with all those players, they warmly and loudly cheered any positive move any of their teammates made.
There were other curiosities. The rink was wider than we’re used to, and instead of playing 15-minute periods, the clock was set to 25 minutes, running time. The Blades had three centers, Sue, Clare and Laurie, centering two sets of wings: Lora and Namiko and Karyn and Nina. Deb, Carol Anne, Laura A and myself were the blueliners. The mighty Stephanie was in net.
It took us a few shifts to get into the groove. The Lipstix took advantage of that, and got an early goal – just one of those floaters that sneaks in. But then the Blades clicked, and good things started to happen.
The forwards were fierce! I think everyone had great shots on goal, including Nina, who had at least two excellent chances. Namiko never stopped skating, or battling. On two occasions she fell to her knees but was fighting for the puck all the way down. She and Karyn both took advantage of the rink’s width, playing their positions, making themselves open for long passes across the ice. Karyn really stepped up her game, aggressively skating the puck up the board and almost scoring on a strong shot from an angle.
The centers were as picture-perfect as the scenery. Sue kept moving, pushing the puck and the pace, supporting the wings, attacking the net. Clare took charge of the front of the crease looking for cross-ice passes, and attacked any and all rebounds. And Laurie? I have to quote Stephanie here: in front of the net, behind the net, in the corner, jabbing at the rebound, 2 goalaroos for her!
As if that wasn’t enough for the Lipstix to contend with, Lora has a bravura game as well. She skated through the crowd, around the net, into the open spaces; she chased loose pucks, and she peppered the netminder, and she put another two goals on the board!
The defense provided great support throughout. Carol Anne was strong on offense, keeping the puck inside the blue line and sending it back to the wings. She also broke up the momentum with some well-timed poke checks. Laura A played a smart game, judging her chances and taking the puck behind the net in our zone to buy some time and opportunities.
Steph was sterling in the net. Two early goals snuck in while she was still getting used to the venue; after that, the doors slammed shut. Their best player, who had scored the first goal, was stymied time and again. In one notable move, she lifted a wrister, aiming for the top left, which Steph wound up deflecting with her stick handle! There’s no baseball in hockey, Steph! Except, of course, when there is.
Two periods of 25-minutes ended and we started to line up when the Lipstix asked if we wanted to keep playing. Of course we said yes! We added another 15 minutes to the game; no score, just pure fun.
After the game, the Lipstix invited us to their clubhouse where we shared a fancy feast of brie, seared tuna, grapes and other delicious treats, along with wine, beer and even some bottles of champagne. Even before we left, we were ready to go back for another game!