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What It Was, Was Hockey

Written November 19, 2017


So Roscoe, how's it goin'?

Can't complain.

They say you're workin' down at the Arena as a janitor.

That's right.  It's only part-time, but I get to see all the college basketball games.

And then you sweep up afterwards?  Get rid of all them hot dog wrappers in the stands?

Nah, first, before the game, I clean the floor.

I betcha they give you a big ol' broom for that.

Well, they did at first.  Now they let me push around this electrical floor-polishin' machine.  It shines the wood up real nice.

Good for you!

But they pulled a fast one last Saturday.  'Tweren't no basketball game at the Arena that night.


No, seems they'd rented the place out for a professional hockey game.


Well, I guess it weren't no official game.  They called it a “hexibition.”

I've heard tell of hockey.  They play it in them big cities up North.

Up North, you say?  That explains it.  They must've wanted them Yankees to feel at home.  They turned the thermostats down real low, and the building was colder'n a banker's heart on foreclosure day! 


I ain't spoofin' you.

Had you ever laid eyes on a hockey game before?

Can't say as I ever did.  But they told me to clean the floor beforehand, just like usual.

Well, you do know how to do that.

I thought so.  But when I got there, the floor was all different!  They'd painted it white, all over.  And they gave me a different polishin' machine.  This one was huge, and I got to climb up on it.  I drove it like a gol-darned ridin' mower!

Do tell!

They call it a Zamboonie or sumpin' like that.   

What sort of motor's in it?

I'm not rightly sure.  Runs on propane, I think.  And it doesn't just sweep the floor, it wet-mops it too.  Leaves a wet streak behind it, so's you can see where you've been.


So I cleaned the floor all over like they told me to, and then I drove the Zamboolie back out into the hall and parked it there.  The floor was all nice and shiny.  But then the players came out and started gettin' ready, practicin' their shootin'.  And they wasn't wearin' rubber-soled sneakers.  No sir, every last one of 'em was wearin' skates.

No kiddin'!  Like rollerblades, with wheels?

No, worse'n that.  Their boots had these big ole steel knives on the bottom.  Those blades were real sharp.  They scraped up my floor sumpin' awful!  A player would skid to a stop, and white chips and splinters would go flyin' everywheres.  And the nets they was aimin' fer?

What about 'em?

They was a far sight bigger than a basketball net, I'll tell you what!  They must've been six feet wide.  And they weren't up on no ten-foot poles.  They was right down on the floor!

Oughta be real easy to make a basket that way.

You'd think so!  But I gather the players ain't allowed to use their hands.

So do they kick the ball, like that there “soccer”?

Naw, they hit it with these long curved bats.  And it was a little bitty ball, too, flat, about like a can of chewin' tobacco — but all dirty and black from bein' poked at so many times.  When it bounced, it skittered along all funny-like.


Well sir, it came time for them to commence playin'.  Now, I gotta confess, some of the goings-on looked like the start of a basketball game.  They put 20 minutes on the scoreboard.  There was three referees in striped shirts.   The players lined up in two rows for the National Anthem.  And then most of 'em went back to the bench, but the starting fives gathered 'round the center circle and got set for the jump ball.

Just like good ol' “hoops.”

But when the ref tossed the ball, the two guys didn't jump up after it.  No sir, they waited for it to drop.  It fell all the way down to the floor!

I reckon it's hard to jump up very high when you're wearin' skates.

Then they commenced to whackin' at the ball with their bats.  One of them knocked it downcourt, and everybody started skatin' after it.  A fast break, you know?  But then a fight broke out!

All the players started brawlin' with each other?

Naw, just one player from each side.  They got to pushin' and shovin' and hittin', like they was real mad at each other for some reason.  But neither one could wind up and throw a proper haymaker, 'cause he was holdin' on to the other guy's uniform with one hand.  And those uniforms wasn't no shorts and shirts.  They had heavy sweaters on, and long pants with lots of padding.  Football helmets, too.  The punches couldn't do much damage.  It was comical, I tell you.

How could those guys play a game while they was wearin' all that gear?

I studied about it a bit, and I decided they was all armored up lest they get nasty cuts from them boot blades.  Oh, and they had big ol' gloves.

If you're gonna be swingin' away at each other, you gotta wear boxing gloves.

'Cept these two guys, they tossed their gloves away before they threw the first punch!  At least they didn't beat on each other with their bats; they tossed those away, too.  But it was a perprosterous way to fight, grabbin' each other in a clinch like that.

So did the refs break it up?

Naw, the refs didn't do nothin' at first.  They just stood there and watched!  And the other players didn't do nothin' to help their teammates, neither.


But finally the two guys fell down to the floor and commenced to rasslin'!  Why, it started to look like what you call your Mixed Martial Arts.  Right then and there, one ref grabbed a guy, and another ref grabbed the other guy, and they pulled 'em apart.  Evidently they ain't got no rule 'gainst boxin', but rasslin' is goin' too far.  The refs throwed both guys out of the game.  

Wow.  Two technical fouls.  So did each team get to shoot foul shots, then?

No sir, they didn't.  I didn't see a single foul shot all night.  The refs did blow their whistles a goodly amount, but neither team ever — whaddaya call it — “got into the bonus.”  No, after the fight was over, everybody just went back to skatin' back and forth.

Was it a good game?

Not the way I saw it.  There was a powerful lot of turnovers.  A team would rush down to one end, but they'd lose the ball straightaway.  Then the other team would take it to t'other end.  Then here they all come back this-a-way again.  Lotsa times, nobody even got close to shootin' the ball at the net.  And when they did shoot, would you believe it?  There was a catcher from the other team squattin' there waitin'!  His catcher's mask was done up real scary-like.  Sorta looked like a painted skull.  I guess he wanted to untimmydate the shooters.  And he was right there, right in front of the net holdin' a big flat bat of his own, and he'd knock the shot away!

That's goaltending!  Can't allow that.

Seems like it is allowed in hockey.  Go figure.  Everyone cheered, anyhow.  Oh, and another thing:  Sometimes players left the floor and other players came on, without waitin' for a whistle to stop the game or nothin'.  They'd just jump into the action whenever they felt like it!  And they didn't have to report to the scorer's table or tag in or nothin'.

That don't seem fair neither.

So they kept goin' back and forth, up and down, and nobody made a basket.  And then, I couldn't believe it, but here come those two guys who'd been throwed out of the game for fightin'!

They let 'em back in?

Sure did.  I guess the refs just made 'em sit down to cool off for a few minutes, and afterwards it was like the fight never happened.

What a sport!

So the first 20 minutes ended, and I looked up at the scoreboard, and it was still nothin' to nothin' at halftime.  The arena kinda emptied out for a while.  The players filed back to their locker rooms, and most all the fans went to the concession stand for coffee.  It was still so cold in there that the lawyers had their hands in their own pockets.  I saddled up my Zambookie to repair all the ruination them blades had done to the floor.

There was a lot of scrapes and splinters, I bet.

There was, but somehow that danged Zambootie fixed everything.  I can't imagine how.  It musta sanded everything smooth and mopped up the sawdust.  When I turned around and looked behind me, the floor was just as nice and shiny as before!  It's a miracle machine, I tell you what.  I gotta get a little Zamboolie for the floors out at my place.

So then the game started up again, I guess.  Did anyone make a basket in the second half?

Yeah, one team made four!  But I couldn't rightly see how they did it, it all happened so fast.  They was scufflin' and scramblin' around the net, and then the ball must've gone in because they started celebratin' like you wouldn't believe.  I guess it doesn't happen very often.  But the team didn't get no two points for a basket.  They certainly didn't get no six points for a touchdown.  The scoreboard just put up one point, each time.

So the score was only four to nothing.

You got it.  That's how the game ended.  The arena emptied out again, and I drove the Zamballoon out one more time to get the floor back the way it was before.  But then, the strangest thing!

What's that?

All the players filed back in, and so did the fans!  The refs put another 20 minutes on the clock, and they commenced to playin' a third half!

What?  How many halves do they play in hockey?

I swear, I thought this foolishness would never end. 



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