From North Carolina to CaliforniaBy: Mitch Peacock | Published: January 15th 2016
The alarms went off bright-and-early Friday morning for Moose players and staff. A season-high eight game home stand in the rear view mirror, it was time to kick off the longest road trip of the season.
Like that extended stay at home this monster road trip revolves around eight games, this time in 15 days.
But, unlike that run at MTS Centre (which ended with a win over Lake Erie and a 3-4-0-1 mark), this busy stretch won’t offer a homemade meal and that familiar bed at the end of another day of grinding your way through the lessons of life in the American Hockey League.
Instead it’s more than two weeks of flights, bus trips, and moving from hotel to hotel in order to compete in North Carolina and California.
North Carolina and California?
Yeah, I know, they’re not close to each other but that’s what’s in store when you’re in a division that includes the Charlotte Checkers and a conference that now is home to the Ontario Reign, Stockton Heat, and Bakersfield Condors.
So, how does it all set up?
Well, are you ready?
Friday started with a flight from Winnipeg to Minneapolis followed by a connection to Charlotte.
The Moose play the Checkers Saturday and Sunday before flying to Los Angeles on Monday.
Two days later there’s a date with the Reign at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, CA.
The next day it’s a bus trip to Stockton for games Friday and Saturday, January 22 & 23.
Tired yet? Oh, they’re just getting started.
The day after the Stockton series, the team buses to Bakersfield where it’ll set up shop for a while; games against the Condors go Wednesday and Friday, January 27th and 29th.
That’s seven games…which means there’s one more to go.
And that calls for a post-game bus ride from Bakersfield to Ontario, paving the way for the journey’s finale Saturday, January 30th.
By the way, I haven’t even mentioned the practices along the way and all of the morning skates too.
It’s such a big trip the itinerary prepared for players and staff is five pages long!
But, as hectic and crazy as it all seems it’ll somehow all work out.
Okay, it’s not fluke that it all comes together; there’s a team behind the team.
Director of Hockey Operations Brad Andrews not only wrote up the itinerary, he put all of its pieces in place and will do his best to have it all go as planned.
Equipment gurus Graham “Spike” Watt and Robert “Cookie” Cook will make sure the players and coaches have everything they need to do their job the same way they are able to do it at home (a load I couldn’t begin to get my head around).
The athletic therapy team of Scott MacLeod and Jake Wolff will team up to ensure the players are as fit and healthy as possible.
And all of that doesn’t include what the coaches and players will take on to be as prepared as possible to push for wins and maintain individual development.
It’s a big ask for all involved, but in the end just a great big sample of what it takes to be a professional and an important part of the education of any elite hockey prospect.
So let the games begin!
The Moose face the Checkers in Charlotte Saturday and Sunday and both games can be heard LIVE on moosehockey.com
Saturday, January 16th the pre-game show starts at 4:45pm Central.
Sunday, January 17th pre-game coverage begins at 4:15pm Central