Friday, February 02, 2007

Mighty Mike Edwards, Part III: “Another Brick in the Wall”

We join Mike Edwards in action for the Boston Hockey Legends against the Rowley Police Association at Graf Rink in Newburyport, MA. Catch the pre-game and the early action.

“You’ve gotta watch Stewie out in front,” Frank Simonetti, a defenseman who spent parts of four seasons with the Bs, warns Mike Edwards after Paul Stewart, a fellow defenseman, failed to clear yet another rebound for the AMHL goaltender making his debut in the Black and Gold.

Edwards has continued to play solid in nets since surrendering an early softie, but his defenseman have either been out of position or perhaps have decided to give the Rowley Police Association (RPA) a little leeway to make the game closer.

At the first intermission, the score is Boston Hockey Legends 9, RPA 5. In front of the bench, Edwards asks Don Marcotte how long the periods are because the goalie feels like he’s been on the ice a long time.

“Just two thirty-minute periods...and we’re not switching ends... we’re getting a little tired, so it’s up to you to shut them down the rest of the way and we’ll win this one.”

How do goalies deal with that kind of pressure? Two days before the game, Edwards—a DJ and a goalie—commented on the music that motivates him before and during games. In the AMHL, where crowds are sparse (at best), Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” rents space between Mike’s ears.

“Something about that song settles me and gets me into the flow of the game, and usually by the end of the third period, I'm ready.”

AC/DC has replaced Pink Floyd, though. “Hells Bells” resounds from the PA system.

Just two and a half minutes into the second half, Mr. DJ thrusts his legs to the left, stacking his left leg pad on top of the right to thwart an RPA shot. The puck lands on the goal line, but Edwards smothers it with his glove.

He surrenders a goal on a breakaway and then another on a rebound midway through the half but by then, the Legends have scored two more goals; they own a comfortable 11–7 lead.

With less than eight minutes left in his pseudo-NHL career, Edwards is all over the crease—a kick save here and then a flash of webbed leather there—as he turns aside shots from the swarming RPA shooters.

“Mighty Mike Edwards!” the PA announcer roars as the synthesized applause fades during a pause in the action.

With time running out, Stewart, ever the entertainer, tells Edwards to let a couple shots in, especially for third-line RPA players. Stewie stands to the right of his goaltender, feeding soft passes to the opponent as Edwards defies what every bone in his body must be telling him to do: Stop the puck!

Edwards will later say, “I stood bolt upright, stick off the ice with my legs together, in the middle of the net as he passed the puck right on [one winger’s] stick ten feet out on the left wing. He shot and missed the net!”

The final buzzer sounds…the teams shake hands…and Edwards exits the playing surface to greet a crowd of autograph seekers.

About a dozen youngsters, gripping their Sharpies, ask the now legendary goaltender for his signature. Happy to oblige them, he signs whatever they want but tells them he’s just a sub. They don’t care, so Mike signs more programs and poses for photos. His arms around a couple of kids, Edwards wonders when the requests will end.

“I’m gonna miss my bus!” he says, amazed by the surging throng. After he escapes to the locker room, a little boy, when asked to describe the goalie’s performance, replies, “Awesome!”

“He played pretty well,” the lad’s father says.

“He played good enough to win,” says Marcotte, who’s seated in the lobby, still in uniform and still signing autographs. “We left him alone a few times.”

“Outstanding,” says Brad Park and then jokes, “He was out, standing over here, out, standing over there. Outstanding.”

Edwards dresses and then returns to the lobby, where autograph hounds still linger.

“Great game, Reggie!” a hockey mom says to our hero.

“Thanks!” he says with a smile that won’t quit.
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