Wednesday, July 12, 2006

AMHL Tuesday: Hurling and Hockey

“Kilkenny,” the description at Wikipedia reads, “is one of the foremost counties in Ireland for proficiency in the game of hurling. This very fast and exciting field sport is indigenous to Ireland but is most popular in the geographical southern region. Kilkenny is one of the counties where certain players can attain the status of superstars where, on an Irish national level, their standing is alongside that of internationally renowned sporting personalities.”

Kilkenny is also the surname of AMHLer Bobby Kilkenny, from Stow, MA. I doubt he’s ever set foot upon a hurling pitch, but he knows his way around a hockey rink. Kilkenny is fast becoming known for not just the red and blue United States Postal Service tape he wraps around his hockey socks but rather for delivering divine hockey performances.

This Tuesday morning, the diminutive AMHL Leaf strapped his dark blue and red goalie pads on his legs, pulled his blue #4 jersey over his head, reached for his blue Bauer goalie stick, and stepped onto Rink One, his Leafs about to take on the Flyers.

The budding superstar has played goalie for the past two or three years in another adult (gasp) hockey league, but this morning’s game would be his debut in an AMHL crease.

The 5' 7", 160-pound 40-year-old netminder surrendered two goals in the first period, but his teammates notched three before the period ended. After Kilkenny’s comrades scored their seventh goal halfway through the second stanza, Kilkenny tilted his goalie mask back on his head and twisted his neck to look at the scoreboard, noting he had a three-goal lead to hold. He yanked down his mask and got down to business.

For the rest of the period, the Leafs tested the pint-sized puckstopper. Kilkenny rose to the occasion. First he darted toward the face-off circle to his left to poke the puck off an incoming Flyer’s stick. Later, he stepped to his right to scoop a loose puck into the corner. He saved his best move minutes later, stacking his left leg pad on top of the right as he hurled his legs toward the left post to stop a shot.

His boisterous teammates roared their approval!

In the third period, “the Wee One” performed the popular Cupido Minimus (Ireland’s smallest butterfly) to snare would-be goals between his pads en route to a 10-7 victory. So what if a few got by him? Like the Leafs’ offense and the USPS, Bobby delivered.

This didn’t come as any surprise to AMHL veteran and Leaf teammate George Morton, who provided lofty praise for the soon-to-be internationally renowned AMHL personality. “Bob has found many ways to contribute to the success of the Leafs since being traded about a month ago. He has filled in at defense, scored hat tricks from the front line and now, even strapped on the moldy goalie pads to lead us to victory over the whiny Flyers. What more can I say?”

(Stay tuned for the report after the August 1 game, when the fault-finding Flyers attempt to exact retribution on Mr. Morton.)
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