February 20, 1998

Czecks Check Mightily

Well, despite all my best intentions I didn't get the sleep I wanted to get. Instead, I watched Canadian hearts get broken by a shootout.

Part of the problem was self-guilt. John asked me if I shouldn't be riding the exercise bike before going to bed, and I had planned, earlier to just skip it because i was feeling exhausted and really didn't want to ride and really just wanted to go home and get to sleep, but since he mentioned it, my guilt thing kicked in and I really, really had to do what it was that I was supposed to to.

I really didn't want to ride all that much, but I also knew that the more that I rode the easier it would get to be. So I climbed on when John went to his soccer game and started riding. I hated the first few minutes, as always. However, I had managed to arrange the seats so that it wasn't even nearly as painful as it has been, and I think that with time and effort my knee really is figuring out how to flex just a bit more and with just a bit less pain.

After all the poking and prodding by the doctors my right arm had a blood bruise from the blood draw, my left arm was aching from the tetanus shot, and everything just hurt. But most of that pain washed away when I got everything moving. Breath and blood, motion and muscle, when it was all on the go, the pain moved with it all and gradually faded.

So I had a really fairly good workout by the time the timer went off on the harder of the two bicycles. I was sweaty and icky and happy, and so I pulled out the icing apparatus that Mom and Dad and Kathy sent and set it all up and then sat back to read The Black Company while the pump purred and made my knee cold. By the time I had finished a few chapters of that my knee was pretty well iced, so I took a shower and all that had taken so long that John appeared from his soccer game right about when I was done.

So I made dinner for the two of us by nuking Trader Joe's Macaroni and Cheese and broiling hot dogs and so we sat down to eat, as was habitual, before the TV that was showing us the Olympics on CBUT, the Canadian channel. They were showing the men's semi-finals, which had the Czeck republic playing against the Canadian team, which had lost Joe Sakic the night before to a knee strain.

It was an astonishing game to watch. Super high energy, and both teams were playing really hard and both goalies were playing nearly inhumanly good games. I've always loved Roy, as he has this lovely style to him, in play and out of it. He seems rock steady and really good at what he does. Hesek was having an astonishing night. Earlier that evening, while we were driving home from work, John had said that it was likely going to be the goalie that was going to win the game, and especially if the Czech's won, it would be because of Hesek's play. He was right.

The game itself was a beauty. Both teams were hot and both played like insane men and the energy was really, really high and they both did everything they could to play well together. The problem was that nearly all the Canadian team was made up of the stars from the NHL teams and while they were all really excellent players, they hadn't really played together all that much. It showed, too, in the passes, especially as well as the crosses because they were utterly gorgeous passes and crosses across the net; but more times than not there was no one following, no one right exactly at the right place to pick up the passes. No one knew precisely, and at a gut level where anyone else was.

I also determined, during the game, that I really, really, really want a replica of a Czech Republic hockey sweater. If there's anyone that reads this that would have any clue as to how I can get one, I would be very appreciative of an information on how to get one.

It was an amazing game, all edge-of-the-seat hour of it. Both teams scored in the third period, the Czechs with a long shot from the blue line into a crowd that screened so much of Roy's vision that he could only just tip the puck up a bit so that it finally just hit the upper corner of the goal. Canada scored when it looked nearly impossible and there were only a few minutes left. They managed it in time, in a confused scrum of motion that had Hesek blocking three shots only to get faced with a fourth that was just too close and just too fast for him to get. Then ten minutes as well, of sudden death overtime, ten minutes of hard fast and furious hockey.

Then on to that of which the announcers refused to speak. The shoot out.

Hockey fans think of shoot-outs the way soccer fans, true blue, died hard fans of the sport, think of shoot-outs. They suck rocks. They're awful. They have nothing to do with the game, they are nothing which measures the true greatness of the players or the goalies, and they are no way to determine a real competition.

It is, however, the fast way to determine a winner when the two teams have played their hearts out almost into the time of the next game; and the thousands of people who only watch the sport every four years love them. Attention spans of a gnats wing. So, I guess they say everyone's going that way. Besides, I guess, the rules simply are that way.

Okay. Even the announcers were forced to admit, though, that it was a dramatic way to end the game.

Hesek played like a god. He completely shut out the Canadian shooters. Roy only let by the first shot, so he was only human. A great human goalie, but on that day, only human. And the Czech's go on to play for the gold.

So it was after midnight when I actually got to bed. We didn't have to wake up too early, so I survived the next day, even though it was very busy, what with all the training that we had to finish off. John was also somewhat nonplussed with a few business things that happened, but we managed to get out for lunch to return my crutches and stop for a bit at Trader Joe's so that we could get a few munchies for Saturday night, when we were thinking of inviting a few folks over. I managed to get more stone ground corn chips so that Raven could have some and a bunch of other munchies that were running low.

Then, after work, I played for about an hour and a half in Genevieve's game. That was a blast, and then went home to try and get some sleep

© 1998 by Liralen Li.

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