Sunday, February 8, 2004

The ref is down

Nothing gets you back in shape fast after three days of stomach virus like a morning game at a rink in Coney Island. It's painfully cold everywhere on the Island, but it's measurably worse in a desolate parking lot underneath the parachute jump. Abe Stark Rink is really...what's the word I'm looking for? Quaint. For safety's sake, the steep, narrow flight of stairs players have to ascend to get to the locker room has been gently rubberized. It's so cold inside that rumor has it the large American flag on one wall is being held there by wind. The beverage choices consist of bottles of Pepsi. The morning snack choices consist of Utz crab-flavored potato chips. This is the sort of rink where the Zamboni driver smokes while he's clearing up.

As the Squirts started the third period of action, disaster struck. An errant shot bounced off a player and nailed the second ref in the eye. He clutched his face and bent over, dribbling blood on the ice. As play was whistled dead, he skated over to the scoring table, in front of the home team's bench, and started to let loose more blood. Lots of blood. It looked like the Squirts version of a Malarchuk moment. He was eventually led off the ice by the other ref, coincidentally his dad as well, leaving the game with just one lineman.

So now they had a nice dark red pool of blood on the ice, about the size of a faceoff dot. The home trainer had a good idea, taking a water bottle to squirt it away. This effectively turned the blotch into the size of a faceoff circle. It was sorta nasty.

On the way back from the game, we discovered what happens when the region has a deep freeze, followed by six feet of rain in one day. The entire Southern State Parkway was turned into a merry series of potholes and frost heaves that threatened to swallow entire overpasses. It was like Florida without the alligators. Fortunately the DOT was on top of things, blocking off lanes with 50 feet notice and turning those potholes into potholes with big bumps in the middle.

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