Although the Old Geeks Hockey Squad had a chance last evening to win their first championship in a decade, they managed to do just about everything wrong.
Arrival at the rink showed an overflowing parking lot, ticket scalpers, and a lively crowd. Sure that they were filling the stands at last, the Geeks prepared to skate in the 5,000 seat Spectator Arena. Alas, they were disappointed to learn that most of the fans (well, all except six) were there to see the Brampton Battalion play the MIssissauga Ice Dogs. And the Geeks were relegated to one of the non-fan-friendly rinks. Oh well. At least the salary cap keeps us profitable.
At first it seemed the Geeks would skate with a very short bench, but the late arrival of ‘the kids’ and ‘their chauffeur’ midway through the first period bulked up the line-up, and managed to screw up the lines royally. But this was the least of their concerns.
The Geeks gave up an early goal before the entire team had even managed to get onto the ice – just over a minute in. They battled through the end of the first period, and survived down only 1-0. And they finally managed to get the late arrivals onto the bench.
After the lines were adjusted early in the second period, Marchand impressed his linemates by jumping on for the wrong man, and then stood there like a stunned bunny, and with an “I’ve just been Tasered!” look on his face while he tried to count red sweaters. Fortunately, Maclachlan, a player of sounder mind and better counting skills, jumped into the fray while Marchand gathered himself.
Just over two minutes into the second, Geeks managed to pretend they were in the game with an odd goal. Clint Kurmunjy took a half-assed slapshot from his own hashmarks, and bounced a one hundred and seventy foot shot past the opposing goalie. The Geeks were back in it. And in typical Geek fashion.
However, late in the second, the Geeks reverted to form. Despite successfully killing a penalty, the Geeks gave up the go-ahead goal at the 3:20 mark of the period, and another less than a minute later. Down 3-1, the Geeks had dug themselves a hole.
The Geeks battled in the third period, but were unable to assemble much offensive pressure. But Alex the goalie kept them alive until the closing minutes. After the Geeks held a brief heated argument about when the goalie should be pulled, they decided that it made sense to take one more penalty, just for luck, and then to pull the goalie. Matched five on five, but with an empty net, the Geeks gave up an empty net goal with twenty-eight seconds left, and were left to grumble their way to the dressing room.
During a lengthy post-game analysis, many theories were advanced regarding the Geeks inability to close the deal. The Geeks had many problems during this game, but the major one was this.
They all of a sudden decided that they were able to pass.
And we’re not talking passing the puck up the ice to your line-mate, or passing the puck to the front of the net.
We’re talking about stretch passes to a streaking (well, moving) forward.
We’re talking about five way passing on the power play.
We’re talking about behind the back passes from point to point.
Unfortunately, the reality is that the Geeks can’t pass. Never could. Which meant turnover after turnover.
And did I mention that they don’t backcheck?
So the game was an unmitigated disaster.
Given the disastrous lack of even minimal hockey skills displayed by the Geeks in this critical match, this esteemed author thought he would provide some handy tips, perhaps to be tattooed on your forearm, or printed and taped to your glove, for handy reference:
- If you have the puck in your end, get it out;
- If you have the puck on your side of centre ice, pass it forward;
- If you have the puck on their side of centre ice, shoot it in;
- If someone shoots the puck in to their end, either go and get it, or go to the net;
- If you have the puck in their end, shoot it (at the net);
- If your team doesn’t have the puck, turn around and skate back the other way;
- Oh, and one more: If the big hand goes around twice when you’re on the ice, you have been on too long; and for most of you, if the big hand goes around once, you’ve been on too long.
Feel free to share these with your friends, to memorize them, and to practice them in your driveway. And if you’re confused, just ask your kids. They’ll straighten you out. Hopefully before next Thursday, when the Geeks have their last chance at glory.
The Bonus Feature
We were fortunate enough obtain a brief interview with former Geek Goalie Don Higgins (shown at right). Don came in to town to have a peek at how the Geeks were performing in the playoffs, and he wasn’t disappointed. The conversation went something like this:
Wingman Chronicles: Don, thanks for spending a few minutes with us here tonight.
Don Higgins: No problem Rob, it’s good to see the Geeks again.
WC: Don, it must have been a bitter pill to swallow when the Geeks cut you last year, despite your work to come back from the off-season finger injuries.
DH: What! Cut!?! I wasn’t cut! I have years of goaltending left in me! Years!
WC: Don, there were rumours that the off-season finger injury resulted from expressing an, uh, ‘opinion’ to the press after the Geek playoff failure last season.
DH: NO, it was from making a game-saving save, you hack! Now can we talk about this year?
WC: Sure, Don. Now, it was rumoured that you might make an appearance on the bench at last night’s game, to provide moral support for the Geeks, and perhaps even suit up to work the door. Did you have a chance to catch any of the game? What did you think?
DH: Sure, yeah, uh, I watched most of it from the bar. Best place to watch any Geek Hockey game.
WC: Good, good – what did you think of the performance of the new Geek goaltender, Alex Wannapassmyfinanceexamthisyear?
DH: Well, I thought he looked a little weak on the first goal. Actually on the other three as well. Should have had those.
WC: But the fourth goal was an empty net goal, after the goalie had been pulled.
DH: That’s no excuse. Back in my day, well, I would have had that. Did I ever tell you about my chipped tooth? Boy, those were the days. Hey! Hey! Let go of me! I’m not ready to go back! The pass was for the WHOLE day!! Help!
WC: Thanks Don, we’ll see you next season.
Some post-game notes.
- Woolley is starting to realize that he might not get to forty points (he is stalled at thirty-nine). Geoff called the current record holder, Kevin Craine, earlier in the week to say that his record was toast – and is now starting to regret the call. Craine remains confident that his record is safe.
- There was a disturbing amount of golf talk after the game – we are beginning to sense a lack of commitment (which, along with the lack of skill, makes for a disturbing situation).
- John Croteau had the family out for the expected celebration, and they were, once again, disappointed. However, John put on an impressive display of stickhandling, as he always does for his fans (you may recall the College Band in Animal House).
- Mike Cardwell also made his long awaited return, after a lengthy conditioning stint. In fact he managed to fan on a shot at a critical point in the closing seconds, so he looked right at home with the rest of the team.
The Geeks will have one last kick at the can next week against the same team – the third time they’ve played in the last four weeks. Unfortunately, three players will be unable to attend – one in Mexico, one in the Dominican Republic, and one in Calgary. And who can blame them? The Geeks are playing later in the year than they ever have before – it’s the middle of April. One benefit of the loss – the Geeks have played the absolute maximum number of games that they possibly could.
But the missing players could lead to problems on the blue line, as two the three cowards, I mean players, are defencemen, and this will leave the Geeks short-staffed. As they wished Alex the goalie ‘good luck’ after the post-game analysis, Alex seemed not to recognize them – but that is another story.
Stay tuned. Again.