AK’s Road Trip Notebook

Day 1: October 6 (Travel Day)

The team looked ready to go on Thursday morning as we left from the Coliseum on the team bus at 5 am.  The drive to Dallas was quiet since everyone was looking to catch some additional sleep.  The plan was to fly from Dallas to Seattle, and then from Seattle to Fairbanks, Alaska where we would play two games.  The flight from Dallas to Seattle was quite uneventful, and when we reached Seattle, we grabbed a bite to eat.  The team was quite divided on the Tigers/Yankees game which was on in the airport.  The Michigan players should have a jump in their step this weekend.  When we reached Alaska, the team was tired and ready to sleep.  Luckily, we gained 3 hours on the trip.  As soon as we stepped outside and saw our breath, we knew we were a long ways from the Texas heat.


Day 2: October 7, 2011 (5-4 Shootout Win over Fairbanks Ice Dogs)

After a good night's sleep and a simple breakfast, we headed to practice in the morning for the pre-game skate.  The main focus of practice was to get rid of our "travel legs" by moving our feet.  After some up-tempo drills, we got off the ice and had some down time till lunch, which was at 2:15.  After lunch we returned to the hotel and prepared for the game, whether it was by napping or playing NHL '12.  The vans left at 5:15 for the game, from where it was all business.  We managed to clinch 2 points even though we slipped up at the end of the game by blowing a 2-goal lead.  After a quick dinner at the rink we drove back to the hotel and called it a night.


Day 3: October 8, 2011 (7-3 Loss to Fairbanks Ice Dogs)

After a good win the night before, we got up in the morning well-rested and ready to go for another game.  We ate breakfast and headed for a nature walk near our hotel and may or may not have trespassed on a docked tourist ferry.  Feeling a bit frozen after the walk, we left the hotel for lunch at a local bar & grill.  Lunch went well, and the team felt prepared for the evening game.  The game didn't go as planned, but we'll learn from our mistakes.


Day 4: October 9, 2011 (Off Day)

Despite being a little depressed from the previous night's loss, most of us managed to sleep in till 12.  To our horror, NFL Sunday started at 9 am, which meant we missed some games.  Lunch took place at the same grill & bar from the day before, and after lunch the team played a little tag football.  Dinner was served at the hotel after football.  We played a little poker on full stomachs and a few of us went searching for the northern lights, but did so to no avail.


Day 5: October 10, 2011 (Off Day)

Today was probably one of the most exciting days during the trip in Alaska. The day started out with an early morning practice after which we headed back to the hotel to get ready for a trip to some outdoor hot springs. We grabbed lunch on the way during the hour-long drive to the springs. The springs smelled like sulphur, but the sensation of freezing due to the cold air and warming up in the springs was far too relaxing for the odor to be a problem. After submerging in the springs, some of us went on an ice sculpture tour and a few players climbed a steep, wooded bluff. In the evening once we got back to the hotel, the team went to Boston's and had pizza to fill our hungry stomachs. After dinner, poker helped us to go to sleep.


Day 6: October 11, 2011 (Travel Day)

Today was mainly a day of travel, starting with a morning flight out of Fairbanks to Seattle.  We were all in awe of the sheer amount of green in Seattle.  Everywhere we looked there were trees and plants, which was a stark difference from Odessa.  The bus ride from Seattle to Wenatchee took a couple of hours but the scenery was beautiful.  Once we got to the hotel in Wenatchee, the team played poker well into the night.


Day 7: October 12, 2011 (Off Day)

Our first full day in Wenatchee began with a morning practice after which we grabbed lunch at a local restaurant.  John Follmer and Andrew Palushaj were the entertainment at the restaurant, singing "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey.  The rendition was so horrible that it made me want to stop believing.  After lunch we headed back to the hotel for some down time before a bowling competition at 3:15.  The winning team got gift cards as prizes.  Immediately after bowling, the team went to dinner at a bar & grill.  Connor Hellebuyck treated us to "Rolling in the Deep" at the restaurant.  As usual, the evening activity was poker.


Day 8: October 13, 2011 (Off Day)

The day began as usual with a morning practice at the rink after which we went out to lunch and had either spaghetti or pancakes.  The team was feeling pretty tired, so a "mandatory" nap order was issued by Kyle Rodgers.  Back at the hotel, most of our day consisted of either football, poker, or just bonding with the team.  Poker is not friendly to many of our wallets.  For dinner we went to a Mongolian grill called "Wok About", filling our stomachs to the brim with the unlimited food.  The evening was laid back, with individuals doing their own thing to finish the day before bed.


Day 9: October 14, 2011 (2-0 Loss to Wenatchee Wild)

Game days don’t really consist of much, other than practicing, sleeping, eating, and of course, playing. After our pregame skate we went back to the hotel and slept till lunch. The game was at 7:05 and we got there two hours before the puck dropped. We didn’t have our best effort tonight, but we have another chance tomorrow.

Day 10: October 15, 2011 (1-0 Win over Wenatchee Wild)

We woke up Saturday feeling a little drowsy from the game the night before, but we quickly got rid of
our grogginess through our morning practice. After lots of sleep and a good meal, we headed back to the rink for game 2.