The first night on the job two guys started heckling the LaSalle’s house band, Blind Rage. Godzilla didn’t waste any time. He grabbed both those idiots by the back of their collars and carried both of them out to the back parking lot. One of the hecklers turned to the other one and said, “We can take him. It’s two against one.”
As soon as one of them made a move toward him, Godzilla grabbed both of them and dropped them in a nearby parking lot dumpster. That’s how Godzilla likes to take care of business. As Winter Dreams were all there to watch Blind Rage that evening, we were very impressed with Godzilla’s ability to handle a dicey situation. That night the band called him over to our table and asked Gordon to be our road manager. The rest is history as they say,” Peyton said.
“What does Godzilla have to do with Misty’s problem?” Sabrina asked.
“Oh, in a very creative way, he can put an end to Linda Saunders badmouthing Misty and Rick,” Peyton answered.
“I’ll ask Godzilla to pay a surprise visit to see Miles Meyers after hockey practise tomorrow. Rick told me that Miles is always the last player to leave the arena. Miles’s physical conditioning is not that great and due to exhaustion following a practise or a game he needs to take off his goalie equipment very slowly. He stops for brief rest periods each time that he takes off a piece of equipment. After undressing, Miles will take a long, hot, soapy shower. He will then put an extra large towel on a bench and lie down for about fifteen minutes. After that Miles slowly and methodically puts on his street clothes.
When Miles leaves the arena he will stop off at the 7-11 convenience store around the corner from the arena. Miles’ usual post practise routine normally takes forty-five to fifty minutes.
“I will estimate the time of Meyers’ expected arrival at the store and will ask Godzilla to wait outside the doors until Miles arrives. When Meyers leaves the store with his banana flavored Slurpee in hand, Godzilla will tell Myers that he is a big fan and would like to have a smoke with him in the back of the 7-11. Once there, Godzilla will inform Miles Meyers of the real reason for his visit. He will let Meyers know in no uncertain terms that he is to stop his girlfriend, Linda Saunders, from spreading around anymore malicious rumors about Misty Roberts and Rick Miller. Furthermore, Miles will need to convince Linda that it is in the couple’s best interests to call an emergency meeting of the hockey wives. During this meeting, Linda will take back all the vicious rumors that she said about Rick and Misty, informing the other girls that they are all lies. To top matters off, Linda will make a public apology to Misty and Rick. To make sure that Miles Meyers gets the message, Godzilla will manhandle and rough Miles up enough that he realizes the seriousness of the matter.
“I really appreciate your offer, Peyton. Sounds like your plan might work, but I have some concerns. What if some of the other players on Rick’s team blame Rick for the incident?” Misty asked nervously, brushing some snowflakes from her hair.
“Got that one covered too, Misty. Godzilla will let Miles Meyers know in no uncertain terms that if he tells anyone about their little conversation that they had behind 7-11, he will pay Miles another visit. During this meeting Miles Meyers can expect enough of a beating to keep him out of action for the rest of the season,” Peyton explained.
“You would actually do that for us? Peyton?” Misty asked
“Absolutely, you and Rick are two of our best friends. I’d do anything I can to help,” Peyton answered.
After their conversation on the park bench, both Peyton and Sabrina walked Misty home.
After Rick Miller was released from the hospital, Brad Keenan gave him a phone call. “So what did you decide about playing hockey this year Rick?”
“I’m going to take the recommended three weeks off, Coach and then will play it by ear from there,” Rick answered.
“Are you sure that you shouldn’t just take the rest of the season off?” Brad asked.
“No. I don’t want to do that Coach. We still have a good chance of making a run for the playoffs this season.
“Yes, we do,” the coach said. “I’m just hoping that the rest of the team puts their full support behind Miles Meyers during the next three weeks or however long your recovery takes. They don’t seem to have much confidence in Miles right now.”
“I wouldn’t worry about it Coach. I’ll be coming to watch all the games. While I’m there, I’ll encourage the players to backup Miles. In fact, I’ll insist upon it. I’ll also be in the dressing room between periods to give Miles advice if he starts to struggle,” Rick said.
“I knew that I could count on you Rick. You are definitely a team player.”
All went as Peyton Ramparts had planned. Godzilla had his little meeting with Miles Meyers behind the 7-11, and as instructed, Godzilla gave Meyers a good working over and let him know in no uncertain terms that if his girlfriend, Linda Saunders, didn’t stop tormenting Misty this would be just a small taste of what was in store for Miles’s if his girlfriend didn’t comply with the instructions.
Godzilla also reminded Meyers that a public apology from Linda was non-negotiable. Right after the Miles Myers incident with Godzilla, Miles phoned Linda Saunders and told her what had transpired.
“I can’t do that!” was Linda’s initial response. “I would be totally humiliated and would lose all credibility with the other girls.”
“It will be a lot worse for you if you don’t comply,” Miles told her. If the rest of the team and the girls find out that you are the reason I got beat up, they would blame you. Think about it, Linda. If Godzilla gives me a much worse beating than I took tonight, I could be out of the lineup for weeks, just when the team needs me the most. Then what are the Cougars going to do? They only have two goalies and we will both be out with injuries.”
“You’re putting me very tough position, Miles. It’s like being between a rock and a hard place,” Linda said.
“But I’m right. Aren’t I Linda? And anyway. whose idea was it to spread those nasty rumors about Misty and Rick in the first place?” Miles responded.
“Okay I’ll do it! I’ll call the girls together for an emergency meeting just before the game tomorrow.”
Linda Saunders arranged a meeting with the hockey wives one hour before the Cougars game against the Norberry Knights. She had a difficult time keeping it together as she made her speech in front of the other girls. Her hands appeared to be shaking and she was very red in the face.
She began her statement by telling the other girls that she had been very mean to both Rick Miller and especially Misty Roberts.
“Girls, I am ashamed to say that my behaviour towards Misty Roberts has been both hurtful and cruel. She doesn’t deserve to be talked about the way that I have recently been talking about her. My cousin, Rudy is not the most trustworthy individual that I know. I should not have used him as a source when spreading those horrible rumours about both Misty and Rick Miller. I’m very sorry and ashamed about hurting Misty. With that being said, from now on we are going to take the high road where Misty is concerned. I ask that all of us will do our best tonight to be friendly and loving towards Misty. We need to make her feel that she is one of the girls. I will be the first one to greet Misty tonight and I will offer her a very sincere and heartfelt apology.”
The girls were all sitting on the long benches in an empty dressing room. They were all quite shocked by Linda’s speech. Most of them shook their heads in agreement as Susan, Eric Coswell’s girlfriend said, “Let’s do it.”
As Linda Saunders left the meeting she went out in the parking lot to clear her head. She was very angry with Miles for making her give this speech to the girls. Linda was starting to re-evaluate her relationship with Miles Meyers. She thought:
If Miles was a real man, wouldn’t he have taken the beating from Godzilla to protect his girlfriend’s honour and credibility?
If the circumstances were different and she didn’t value being the leader of the hockey wives, Linda would probably have broken up with Miles on the spot. The problem was the Linda Saunders enjoyed her prominent position in the hockey wives circle. If she dumped Miles, there wouldn’t be any more players on the Cougars that she could date. Linda sat down and thought about her alternatives after tonight’s game was over. She knew that she was a smart girl and if she waited patiently a good idea would come to her.
Four weeks had passed and Rick had begun practising with his team again. His lightening sharp reflexes had returned and he felt good about his performance during practise. Coach Brad Keenan was hoping to have Rick start in goal in the upcoming make-up game against the Norberry Knights.
Although life was looking up for Rick Miller, the same could not be said for the Maplewood Cougars. They had lost all but one game with Miles Myers as their starting goaltender. Rick had given Miles some good pointers, but Miles was still too inexperienced to play at a winning level in this league. The young goalie had the potential and the talent and time was on his side, but for the rest of this season, the Cougars only chance of capturing a play-off berth was with Rick Miller playing goal in every game.
The evening of the make-up game had arrived. In the Cougars’ dressing room, their head coach was pacing nervously back and forth as he addressed his team.
“I don’t have to say it. You all know how much tonight’s game means. We have to win it in order to retain any mathematical hope of making the play-offs this year. Even a tie won’t save us. We have to win tonight.”
Due to the brawl in the stands that took place during their last outing, security was very tight at the St. Vital Arena. Three uniformed police constables were on duty reinforced with six guards hired from the Garda Security Company.
The head referee for tonight’s game was Steve Kowakski who had the reputation as the official who administered the most discipline to players who broke the rules.
Rick Miller was back in goal for The Maplewood Cougars. During the pre-game warm up, Rick had easily handled shots coming from all angles and had not allowed a single puck get passed him. The stands were packed on both sides of the arena with loud but cautious fans that were here to support their respective teams. The fans on both sides were very cognizant of the extra security officials. It appeared that none of the fans had made any plans to spend the night in jail following tonight’s game.
Head referee, Steve Kowalski skated over to both the Knights and the Cougars benches and read the riot act to both the coaches and the players. He explained, in no uncertain terms that he and his linesmen were going to call a very tight game and if he saw any player intentionally attempt to injure an opponent, he would personally make sure that the offender would be suspended for
the rest of the season including the playoffs. Both coaches nodded their heads by way of indicating that they clearly understood his stern message.
As head referee Steve Kowalski got ready to drop the puck, Bill Woodward, the center for the Cougars and Dennis Sharp, Norberry’s center positioned themselves for the opening face off of the game. At the drop of the puck the Knights center won the face-off and passed the puck back to defenseman Lyle Gaines. Gaines careened the puck off the boards in the direction of right winger Dale Hanson. Hanson turned on a burst of speed that moved him about fifteen feet from Maplewood’s goal. As Dale Hanson wound up for a blazing slap-shot, Eric Coswell, the Cougar’s star defenseman, moved in front of the goal to move Knights right winger Taylor King out of the crease area. Coswell was attempting to give his goalie, Rick Miller, a clear view of the upcoming shot. Unfortunately, Dale Hanson’s shot ricocheted off Eric Coswell’s shin pad causing the puck to take a change of direction.
The puck landed up in the bottom right corner of the Cougar’s net. Rick Miller had been screened on the shot and didn’t have any chance of stopping the puck that changed direction.
Only thirteen seconds of the first period had elapsed and the Cougars were down one to zero. Rick went for a short skate out of his net to regain his composure before returning to mentally prepare himself for the next face-off.
The same two centers lined up for the next face-off. Although Rick knew the first goal was not his fault, he felt his stomach muscles start to tighten like a knotted and twisted rope. The Knight’s center Noel Lamare won the face-off draw and immediately passed the puck to right winger Peter Stafford. Peter wound up for a one timer and put all of his two hundred pounds into his shot. He got excellent wood on the shot and Rick Miller didn’t even see the puck as it entered the right top corner of his net. Rick turned around in disbelief. This was the first time in his career he ever let in a goal taken from center ice.
The score was now 2 to 0 for the Norberry Knights and Rick began to panic. He wondered if he was still rusty after almost four weeks out of action. He also wondered if the concussion he suffered was now slowing down his reflexes. Rick knew how important this game was to his team and he didn’t want to be the player responsible for losing the game. He skated towards the Cougars bench, “Hey Brad. You can pull me and put Miles in goal.”
“What are you talking about? Get back in your net and do your job!” Brad Keenan yelled back at him. With an angry shake of his head Rick skated back to the goal. “How could Coach Keenan put me through this humiliation?” Rick thought.
The Maplewood Cougars bench almost visibly sagged after the second disastrous goal was scored on them. When Rick Miller got back in his net, he could hear the boos and cat calls coming from the Norberry Knights fans,
“Hey Miller, you suck! You couldn’t stop a beach ball.”
The laughing and derision only caused Rick’s anger to well up inside him. He was positively seething when the puck was dropped for the next face-off.
The face-off was won again by the Norberry Knights. The Knights set up a precision pass play that caused a two -on-one situation. This was a play that they had obviously been practicing for a long time. Fortunately, Rick read the play perfectly and stacked his pads to make an amazing save. The Knights bench just shook their heads in disbelief. The save that Rick had just made was nearly impossible. Eric Coswell skated over to Rick and tapped him on his pads.
“You still got it old man. Now we are going to start giving you some protection.”
What Eric just said seemed like empty words as the Knights won yet another face-off and dumped the puck into the Cougars end of the ice. Taylor King, Norberry’s left winger, was the first man to recover the puck. He quickly passed the puck back to Rob Janson, a powerful Norberry defenseman who was setting up to take a wicked slap-shot from the point. All three Knights forwards positioned themselves to block Rick’s view of the oncoming shot. Rick skated a few feet ahead and used his hands to maneuver a Knights winger out of the way. As Taylor King let his blistering slap-shot go, Rick had a small opening to see the puck coming towards the net. Rick dropped to his knees and caught the low shot in his trapper. As there was so much traffic in front of his net, Rick held on to the puck for a face off.
Before the face off both teams had an opportunity to change up their lines. Coach Brad Keenan did not like what he was seeing on the ice. His Cougars were getting badly outplayed by Norberry and his team were just running around the ice like a pack of terrified mice who had just seen the cat appear.
The Norberry Knights were applying massive offensive pressure and Maplewood didn’t appear to have any answer for it. Brad turned his head toward assistant coach Vince Perreti.
“I’m going to take the first line off and send out the grinders. Let’s see what the fourth line can do during the next few minutes.”
“It’s worth a try,” was the response from Vince. “Right now we can’t seem to get the puck out of our own end.”
The Knight’s coach, Jeff Hadley saw what Brad was doing and called out his third line. Hadley’s third line were similar to Brad Keenan’s fourth line in that they were all role players. These guys knew that their purpose was to lay on the body hard. If injuries, penalties and fights resulted from their style of play, so be it.
Coach Jeff Hadley passed on a quick, to the point, message to his third line as they were preparing to jump over the boards.
“Look guys. Maplewood’s coach is hoping that a change in strategy will wake his players up. The going may get a bit rough out there, but I know that you’ll all do your jobs out there.”
Brad Keenan’s fourth line rarely got much ice time during a game. He sent this line out for brief periods of time when the opposition were starting to intimidate his scoring lines. The coach might also send them out when his offensive lines were getting tired or the Cougars held such a big league that the outcome of the game had already been decided.
Coach Brad Keenan had recently signed a new power forward named, Chad Barlow. Chad did not have much experience playing hockey, but he was a star linebacker with Maplewood’s football team, the Panthers. Brad was aware that whatever skills Chad still needed to develop as a hockey player, was more than compensated for by his positive attitude, desire, strength and aggressiveness on the ice.
Maplewood’s coach had not forgotten head referee, Steve Kowalski’s stern message, delivered before the game officially started, about keeping the game clean and under control. At this point in the game, Brad did not care. He realized that if he was unable to radically change the momentum of the game in his team’s favor, the Cougars would most likely suffer defeat in this pivotal hockey game. The Maplewood Cougars needed to win this game to maintain their mathematical chance of making the play offs this season.
A few seconds before Chad Barlow got a chance to climb over the boards, Coach Keenan whispered these instructions in his tough, power forward’s ears. “Look. Norberry has just sent Glenn Davidson out on the ice. Forget about what the head referee said. I want you to give Davidson and the rest of his team a strong message.”
“I gotcha Coach,” Chad replied while moving his tongue in a lizard like manner. “I’ll take care of Davidson or anyone else on the Knights who needs an attitude adjustment.”
“I know. That’s why I signed you,” Coach Keenan said with a smirk on his face.”