Saturday, August 11, 2007

AMHL Thursday: Heart (and Soles)

Uh oh. I can’t find the insoles to my skates.

I announce this to my Avalanche teammates in the locker room fifteen minutes before our first round play-off game against Aaron Sherman and the Capitals.

“Use the ones from your shoes,” says Bill Barrett, sitting to my right.

“Brilliant!”

Across from me, I catch the end of a story Brion Bickerton is sharing. …a doctor, who was out of the office, was bitten by a scorpion but had in her bag of tricks an ample supply of Benadryl. I had know idea antihistamines could counter the sting from an eight-legged arthropod.

“That’s why I always carry an extra bag of defibrillators,” I say on my way out the door to Rink One.

After surviving the first period against the last-place Caps, Bickerton takes charge of matters with the quiet calm of a surgeon during coronary bypass surgery. Dave “Mr. Hockey” Losier’s lower body injury has forced the superstar to play defense and has thrust Brion into an unfamiliar role: point-producer.

In the second period, the Avalanche skating right to left across your streaming audio, Bickerton controls the puck along the far boards in the offensive zone. He centers a pass to Barrett, who wastes no time lighting the lamp. A few minutes later, Bickerton is covering for me on the right point as I’ve ventured deep into the offensive zone, waiting for a pass. Brion slings the puck toward the net. It seems to bounce off someone’s skate, stick, or shin pad and then darts past goalie John Torney.

Bickerton’s offensive outburst seems to have jolted us back to life. His stellar play isn’t limited to his pin-point passing or wise shot selection; our hard-working right winger is like brown on rice (I prefer the unprocessed grain over the blanched and clichéd variety), clogging the Caps’ passing arteries.

Sherman earns two assists but does not score. Bickerton doesn’t score either but has notched three helpers in our 8–4 victory.

Two hours after inserting those insoles into my skates, I walk to work. My pulse quickens just thinking about Brion Bickerton’s brilliant play and next week’s championship game.
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