On a typical summer day at Stonehart Gardens, the sights and sounds would include the screams of joy, the yelps of pain, and so many various breeds of sticks slapping and bodies colliding. Each passing day would present a carbon copy of the predecessor, with the same foes pitted against each other, over and over. An endless cycle of hockey in it's purest form.
The season of 2002 however, proved to be very much atypical. It did not pickup where it left off in 2001. Perhaps, in hindsight, it was foolish to assume that the traditional form of SGHA would last an eternity. The SGHA failed to take into account a crucial truth: Nothing is static, everything is falling apart. Knowing that, the news du jour is as follows: 2002 marked the end of the Crazy Train vs. Gamblers battle format. These teams were forced to dismantle, purely because of the mental destruction of several players. These individuals basically balked at the idea of continuing the evening hockey battles that were made famous over the past two years.
The rigours of SGHA gameplay are basically too demanding for mere mortals to work with. Thusly, they refuse to compete. Call it laziness, poor physical conditioning, workaholic syndrome, ignorance, weak-willed ...whatever the fault is, the result was a decline in gameplay, and the end of teams.
Because of the lack of players to form teams, the SGHA adopted the sticks-in-the-middle side selector. Of the players who had the balls to show up, their weapons would be thrown into the designated face-off zone and from that, a stick selectee would divide the sticks evenly. Now, without the best interest of a team to work for, SGHA only represents personal glory. A teammate could very easily become an enemy for the next drop of the puck. This reality brought about many memorable uneasy alliances.
All the change sparked mixed emotions from the combatants. Some developped a great hatred for those who wussed themselves out of the scared SGHA lifestyle. The Conductor of Mayhem for one, has welcomed his anger, and used it to his advantage. He is now in full control of what the ancients refer to as, the Dark Hadou. This rare photograph, captures his powers on film for the first time.
Prime 34 finally rid himself of the disease that was the Gamblers, but on the other hand, his playing time was severely reduced. Still, even without a team, he embarked on death-defying training regime, taking him to hell and back. Upon his return, he stood before the rest of the hockey world in the greatest shape of his life, posessing more killing instinct than ever.
When asked about the extreme regime, Prime 34 had these words. "Yeah, you know, it's not so bad in hell. I don't know what all the hysteria is about these days. I can honestly draw a comparisson between hell and a hot tub. At first, it's pretty toasty, but then eventually, you get used to it. I look at it this way, if I can withstand hell, how the fuck do you think you stand a chance against me?"
Rumours also circulated that many SGHA members joined something called The Weapon X Project, which participated in an underground battle arena from another dimension. If these rumours are true, it might help explain the full collapse of two SGHA players, who shall remain unnamed at this time. Like a paralysing psionic blade through the skull, these two players appeared to lose the very life force that kept them fighting in years gone by. Was the Weapon X their ultimate downfall? Did it destroy their minds, leaving them as mere shells of their former selves? On the other side of the ledger, it has been told that 3 players managed to survive the Weapon X, leaving them with more valuable acquired power and knowledge.
As the season officially came to a close, the players disbanded further away from each other than ever. Many questions remain unanswered inthe wake of 2002, and hopefully, with a little energeon and a lot of luck, they shall be brought to the forefront when 2003 rolls round. One thing is for certain: this evolution is not complete. We have not seen the final format in the SGHA. Where and when it shall stop, remains unknown.
- Stonehart Gardens Hockey Association