Pic by Kelly Stover. That person's cage by...GOD what is that?

I’m writing this post-rec hockey game with my regular collection of consumables nearby – a grape G2, a bag of pepper Spitz, and a water for when I house this G2 in a second, and I’m wondering what our team could have done to make the evening go a little smoother.

Don’t get me wrong: we won by roughly a thousand. They stopped putting goals up on the board in the middle of the second period. But it wasn’t fun.

The thing is, we didn’t play a bad team, we played a team shy on warm bodies. It was playoffs, and somehow they only managed to have five guys turnout.

I know playing without a single change sounds ridiculous to people who play rec hockey in other places, but this is Phoenix rec hockey – there isn’t a huge pool of players to draw from, so it’s not all that uncommon. Our team has won with five before. But our side had eight guys, and last night was never close.

SO: What’s appropriate blowout etiquette in rec hockey? What are you supposed to do when your team is so much better than the other team and the game is just for fun? You paid to get to play hockey, sure, but you don’t want to be a dick.

For me, the question comes down to two options for the inferior team: what’s more embarrassing:

A) If your opponent keeps taking their opportunities (not pushing for them, just taking them) and “runs up the score.” Or,

B) If they play keep-away without pressing, dump it in the corner on breakaways, and lets your team score?

It’s has to be the first latter doesn’t it?

Our opponent last night gave up on playing defense after being down a handful, and just kept trying to hit homeruns. As most smart hockey people know, that risk-taking leads to opportunities going the other way. I found myself, on multiple occasions, knowing it was getting ugly, knowing I’m not supposed to try all that hard anyway (not to be a dick, but the hockey isn’t great), on a breakaway or semi-breakaway unsure of what to do, socially. A few times I tried to pass from a shooting spot, but that just feels condescending. The times I did score, it feels bad…but not as bad as missing. I’m competitive. If I’m shooting, I’m shooting.

So at the end of the game, one of our defenseman who rarely takes a risk (in rec hockey, that concept blows my mind) got the puck and went for it. He beat a couple guys, and was driving through the neutral zone.

I was smiling, until I heard one of their disgruntled players yell “Yeah, go for it, run it up some more!”

I totally get that point. I totally get it’s shitty to cash in on a group that just can’t hang, when the game is over. But it’s tough to know what to do.

If we can’t try, why are we playing at all? If you spend good money (my league was $350 for three months, one game a week), and during those 12 games you’re on the ice for 20 minutes, and you get the puck, eff you if that guy is supposed to dump it in out of respect because your team didn’t show.

So then: a few concessions I think the team on the winning end should make:

1) Close puck races that can be dangerous? Throttle back, Turbo. If you can tell it will be close, let’s avoid a scene.

2) Defensive pressure: dial it back a smidge. If your opponent makes a great play and beats you, kudos, old chap. Most of the time this shell actually works in your favour when you’re up, so don’t go running at people.

3) Don’t drive wide. The type of “good Canadian plays” that get rugged goals that coaches love…stop it. It’s time to try for the perfect play. Those battle plays are for when it’s close. Try to Sedin a few home.

4) Don’t argue with the ref or beg for calls. I mean, come on.

5) Don’t celebrate your goals aside from a knuckle-bump with a teammate or two.

Basically, just be respectful, but take your chances when they come.

Other than the points about safety, let’s be honest: if you don’t want to lose by 15, don’t start cherry picking when you’re down five. If you consider the game out of reach unless you start doing that, well then, consider the game out of reach. Don’t be mad at people for pulling the trigger when they have an open look.

Just because one team has a big lead in rec hockey doesn’t mean it has to get ugly. Be fair to your opponent when you’re up as best you can, but when you’re down, don’t expect your opponent to dump the puck in every time they touch it. That’s not fun for anyone.