George was not having a good day. He was putting together a stuffy hockey team for the local 3 on 3 tournament taking place next weekend. Tryouts started this morning. Thirteen stuffies showed up, none of whom brought equipment or had any experience playing hockey. Snuffles went first. George gave him a stick and passed him a puck. Snuffles picked it up, examined it, and went inside to wash the dirt off. Next up was Kermit. Kermit stood up with his stick, picked up the puck, and threw it at the fence with his hand. George let out a big sigh. Alvin, Nathan, Alfie, Bartholemew, and Skipper flew around on the ice like pros but refused to use sticks. “We have flippers! We’re not using man-made sticks! Are you nuts?” At this point, George was beginning to lose it. Next up was Tropical, who refused to put her feet down on the ice (why skate when you can fly). Then Smurfy, who did nothing but start fights with spectators, and Rescue, who couldn’t put down his mirror long enough to make a play. He had recently had a bath and was feeling quite vain. “I will try again tomorrow,” George announced at dinner time. “But first I need some pudding and some NCIS”.

The next day started out much better on the ice. The first to come were the turtles – Larry, Daisy and Luke. Turtles are slow on land but quick on the ice, and they have great accuracy. Larry was especially good, like a hockey sniper. George made them the A-Team and registered them in the tournament as the Total Turtles. But the tryouts weren’t over yet. George made himself a spicy chocolate latte with ice cream and headed back out to the ice. Next up were Hulky, Spidey and Panda. Spidey used his spidey sense to know if there was an opposing player behind him; he would suddenly stop and then change direction, almost crashing into the other player every time. Hulky had to be careful as he loved to smash the ice and cause sticks and pucks to fly everywhere. He drank a cola every five minutes which might have had something to do with his lack of impulse control. Panda believed he was the captain, coach, and star player and therefore refused to pass the puck. He did okay though, he stayed within the rules and scored several goals by thrusting his way past the opposing team yelling and screaming about a fictitious bamboo warrior. George liked the three of them, made them the B-Team, and registered the team in the tournament as Hero Smash.

Tournament day arrived. Hero Smash played first, against a group of retired fire fighters. Hulky yelled ‘911’ or ‘Fire’ every time one of them had the puck which distracted them just enough for Spidey to use a web and grab the puck. Hero Smash won the game 4-2. Hero Smash played again right after, against a group of penguins. The penguins of course refused to use sticks, so Panda used his stick to flop them on their butts as he skated past. One of the penguins thought the puck was an egg so he sat on it and refused to get up. The referees had to remove the penguin, with puck intact underneath, to a safe zone. The penguins were disqualified; Hero Smash was undefeated. This gave them a ticket to the semi-final in the afternoon so they all left the arena and went to see The Avengers.

The Total Turtles were not lucky enough to win by disqualification, and each of their four games went to a shootout. Shootouts are great for the turtles; there is no time limit and they can use all four feet plus the stick to get the puck in the net. They lost their first game due to a huge hippopotamus goaltender that shut them out, but they won their next three games. In the semi-final, both the Total Turtles and Hero Smash were playing teams of former actors that would now do anything to get themselves on TV. Unfortunately for them, the Total Turtles and Hero Smash had never heard of any of them and had no problem taunting them, “What show was that? Oh, I think I saw that once at 2am but you weren’t on it”. Then they would go into a rant about how reality TV is better than written television. It was down to Hero Smash and the Total Turtles in the final showdown. George was so excited he could hardly stand it. He was convinced that the cast of NCIS would be in the audience. He couldn’t lose.

The puck dropped and it was time to play! The Total Turtles won the face-off and took off down the ice. Hulky tried to smash Larry’s shell but it was hard as rock and Hulky bruised his hand. Larry took a shot on goal but was wide of the net. Spidey grabbed the puck and shot it at Daisy’s shell, bouncing it off at a perfect angle and into the goal! Hero Smash was ahead at the end of the first period, 1-0. Winning the face-off at the start of the 2nd period, Daisy was off with the puck. She pretended to shoot the puck at Panda but it was a fake! She passed to Luke and he shot it, pie-hole, into the net. George calls it the ‘pie-hole’ because the goalie’s legs make a triangle, which is the same shape as a slice of pie (and he’s quite certain that it really is called the ‘pie-hole’). After two periods of play, the score was tied. The third period started with a tense face-off. Hulky smashed the ice, causing Panda to lose his balance. Larry got by him and shot on goal but it was saved in dramatic fashion. Now Spidey had the puck. He raced down the ice, passed to Panda, who passed to Hulky. Hulky one-timed it into the goal. Score! Hero Smash won the game! George was thrilled, but also sad that the Total Turtles lost. The turtles were okay with it though, they said no one ever expected them to make it to a second game and they made it to the finals. The turtles joined Hero Smash in a victory lap and they all went out for pie and pudding afterwards, George’s treat.

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