GURT'S BLOG: SHOE CHECK!Blogs | 4/5/2011 2:50:45 PM | John Gurtler
The “shoe check” is a common sports team prank played during team lunches or dinners where the rookies of the squad end up as the recipients of some pretty crazy dabs of you-name-it all over the tips of their shoe. Or, if the dabber is fast and unannounced – make it two and it’s more than a little dab will do it.
It takes a wily veteran who knows his way around the dark under tables and canals of chairs and can mysteriously disappear from his seat only to seek prey on the unassuming rookie, who for the life of me, never saw it coming. And “shoe check” has been around a long time.
Once the mission is complete, said veteran dabber is back in his seat resuming his meal and conversation as if nothing happened. Then, sudden clangs of silverware against water glasses begin to call attention as a two-word statement is belted out in unison: “Shoe check!” Most take the bluff only to see a red-faced, embarrassed rookie with two large piles of ketchup or sour cream or blue cheese on his shoes.
Do you think Washington Stealth Head Coach Chris Hall was vying for a shoe check the other night? Maybe he missed a prime opportunity at the team’s pre-game lunch Saturday and just wanted to complete his mission with a behind-the-bench, in-game shoe check?
Maybe he thought to catch one of the Bandits in front of the Stealth bench, while his players check him against the dasher board, as Hall sneaks from one of the open doors and mucks his way into the fray leaving a blob of chew on the players’ shoes.
Only problem, Hall doesn’t “pack a lip on.”
Well, maybe he went up to the main concourse before the game and grabbed a few packs of ketchup from the hot dog stand, later discreetly loaded the challenge flag, hoping it would release on the refs when they picked it up.
Nope, Hall can’t stand the sight or smell of ketchup.
Well then, Coach Hall was just aching to pull off a shoe check. So he did what any good coach would do when he could sense he was losing his team’s attention, demeanor, and will to play his system. Down 5-2, he was shakin’ for somethin’.
And when Craig Conn scored, he made a brilliant move. He called for a shoe check! Mark Gardonio, the game’s Crew Chief, was summoned by Hall to check the playing shoes of Bandits goaltender Angus Goodleaf. Was it of the sponsorship variety, page 30, rule 26.3 of the National Lacrosse League’s 2011 Official Rulebook?
Without reprinting the two paragraph rule, ah no, Goaltender Goodleaf was apparently not wearing the right shoe. He was ruled ineligible to play and was excused with his best foot forward to the Bandits bench and to the nearest seat in the equipment room to be furiously fitted with the official sneakers of said Official NLL suppliers, Reebok.
Not expecting to play and rightfully so, goaltender Michael Thompson was called into immediate duty. No warm up, no sip of water, just get in and protect between the pipes. The Stealth players took note of Hall’s shoe check and snapped to attention. It took just 30 seconds for them to score another goal. And, while on the power play, it took only three minutes to get another. All of a sudden the game was tied, 5-5.
It is somewhat of a chess match out there between the coaches.
“For sure, especially with their offense,” noted Bandits GM and Head Coach Darris Kilgour. “Because our defense is going to do the same thing over and over and over again, we’re just gonna do it better and better and better. So if you come in with a good game plan, then it’s up to us (Bandits) to take that game plan away. And most teams are going to have to because if you come up against us without a game plan on offense you’re gonna be in big trouble.”
But a shoe check?
It paid off with a 10-9 overtime decision for the Stealth. I watched a replay of the closing seconds of regulation when the Bandits transitioned into the Washington zone and saw the ranting from the team’s bench to call timeout. But the house was incredibly loud and the Bandits made crazy moves to advance the ball – and all of a sudden it was a Clint Eastwood moment for Mark Steenhuis. With the ball cradled in his stick and face-to-face with Stealth netminder Matt Roik, it was a split-second challenge. “And you ask yourself, do you feel lucky? Well, kid, do ya?” Not that night.
Washington is known for its fast transition and goaltender Roik found Paul Rabil who found Rhys Duch. And the rest is history.
Despite the wrong shoes, and whatever size he played in after, Angus Goodleaf turned in a great game, making 46-saves, many critical, including a pair of double saves. He deserves better than a 0-3 mark.
Many of the small things that incorporate victory are being employed by the Bandits this season. Look at the dual face-off position with Jay Thorimbert and Brandon Francis. They are two different styles and very successful. Mysteriously missing from Saturday night’s lineup was the gritty John Harasym. Every player on the roster makes a contribution. Even the defense showed some good offensive looks Saturday night.
Great teams recover from miscues and breakdowns. That’s what sport is all about – how well do you recover? No question, the Bandits have already moved on and they will be better for it.
They can’t look back because this coming weekend’s double-header with Toronto and Rochester is going to be huge.
It’s a learning experience and one hell of a shoe check.
Friday and Saturday’s radio coverage will be on News Radio WBEN, 930 AM and 107.7 FM. The pre-game show both nights will go at 7 p.m. Time Warner SportsNet Rochester will prove the television feed for TWC (channel 13) Saturday night from the Blue Cross Arena, starting at 7:30 p.m. NLL.com will provide coverage as well.
The replay of Saturday night’s Bandits/Stealth game will air on Versus Saturday, April 9 at 2.pm.