With the addition of Canadians and the removal of ice, the New Year’s Day game in Birch Bay delivered a quirky yet skillful competition that I’m sure was just as much fun to watch as it was to play in. A couple tumbles, some brilliant goaltending, and plastic brooms that exploded into shards upon mighty impact with the ball made for an action-packed spectacle. Add in a celebrity appearance from Brrrrr The Bear and the colorful commentary of the microphoned and completely unbiased referee (John Gargett- Is he a dual-citizen??), and the international broom ball game was a fun time for all.
Action was even throughout the first 15-minute period. The Canadians came on strong with several close shots on goal, and the Americans surged late in the period for two solid attempts. The Canadian goaltender, employing a push-type broom to devastating effect, was a brick wall in front of the net.
With no broom standardization, the variety of sticks played a major role in each athlete’s stick handling. A standard wooden broom with straw bristles, once trimmed with scissors and duct-taped to form a solid ball-contact blade, served me well. Several players had the cheap plastic variety of broom, and pretty much all of those were mangled by the end of the game.
The game was tied 0-0 after one period. The second period went much like the first: lots of back and forth ball chasing, several shots on goal, and no points on the board. With six players including the goalie on the at pavement at one time, both teams had a couple substitutes, which were needed as the periods wore on and athletes became winded.
Ages on both teams ranged from grade-school to retirement, with the average Canadian being slightly older, but age seemed to have little effect on skill, because everyone was passing and shooting like Sidney Crosby.
Midway through the third, Canada broke the asphalt with a breakaway goal. The Americans answered back a few minutes later with a pass-and-shoot goal. The game ended in a 1-1 tie, and Gargett laid out the rules for a tie-breaking shoot out.
“Each team choose a player for a one-on-one shot at the opposing goalie,” he said. “If it’s still a tie after one round, we go to the next person on each team, and so on until the tie is broken.”
Canada went first, and scored with a blistering slapshot. Tim on our team answered back with a deft flick into the corner of the Canadian net. Our goaltender stopped the next Canadian attempt with a nimble stick save. Then it was up to me to put away the winning goal. I followed Tim’s lead with a slow dribble to the crease and a shot to the right, which went up over the goal tender’s push broom and into the corner of the net.
We celebrated with raised brooms and high-fives, and shook the hands of the Canadians. They were good sports about the close loss, and vowed revenge at next year’s game. See you in 2014!
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