The Beer League Chronicles: The new season begins

While we here at Bus League Hockey love to talk hockey and keep up on the latest news and gossip. We still play the game too, and last night, the men’s league season started down south. It did not go well.

Last season my team, the Lone Stars, made it to the championship series where we were swept in two games by the Wranglers, and this year I was drafted to the team that we beat last year in the opening round of the playoffs, the Rattlers, in a pair of overtime games.

The 11 guys we have on the team at the moment were excited to get the season started, because on paper we appeared to have a strong team, a good mix of guys including one who was a former pro in the CHL and IHL. But when you find out on Monday that the season is starting the next day, needless to say, your numbers are going to be a little low for the first game.

Of our 11 skaters, only five could make it, so we had to use three people from the B League that played before to get to eight skaters for the night, and our best player was not one who could make it, so right away we were going to be up against it.

And then we took the ice and our opponents, who finished last, last season, had roughly 12 guys on the ice, including a former CHL MVP and another guy who played high-level juniors. Needless to say, they did not look like the same last-place team from the year before. Did you ever have a game in any sport growing up where you just needed to watch the warmups to know how the game was going to go? That’s how last night felt. It was 7th grade basketball all over again. This was not going to go well for us.

And then the game started and we looked pretty good to start! Play was even, both teams had chances, both goalies started out making a number of good saves to keep it scoreless. Maybe we can hang!

And then we scored the first goal! On a loose puck in front of the net, a couple of hacks later it was in the back of the net and holy crap we somehow had a 1-0 lead on this team we thought was going to kill us!

But it did not get better from there. After that, the combination of them having more talent and more players took over. Just as quickly as we had scored to make it 1-0, they answered again and again and again. Honestly, I don’t even remember what the score was at the end of the first period, but it was probably somewhere around 6-1. That swelled to 10-1 by the end of the second, which meant a running clock for the third period before the game mercifully ended with a final score of 11-1. Their former pro and junior player basically skated rings around us whenever they wanted and were able to set up teammates for tap-in goals throughout the game.

This isn’t to say we didn’t have chances, we probably had 5-6 good looks, including three by myself, we just couldn’t score, and every time we had a good chance, their goalie was up to the task. I was stopped on a breakaway in the second period where I tried to go five-hole but the goalie didn’t bite, beat him later in the period but hit the post, then put one off the edge of his shoulder in the third. Three good chances, but two good saves and a little bit of bad luck. Really, I thought I played OK last night for the first game and us being short-handed, it was just a slog for the second half of the game where myself and everyone else had no legs.

But we still have 24 more chances this season, and with two of our better players hoping being in the lineup things will get better as we go along. If not, hoo boy it could be a long season.

Rattlers Record: 0-1, 1 GF 11 GA

Next Game: Tuesday vs. Lone Stars.

My Season Stats: 0g, 0a, 0pts, 4 shots.

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