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Overcoming Travel Pains

Travel management is paramount when a hockey team ends up on the road for several days. This is no different for the Phoenix who are in progress of  traveling nearly 3000 km over five days.

The team left Wednesday morning from the Palais des Sports towards Charlottetown. In total, almost 15 hours separated the start of the trip and the time the team got to the hotel in the evening. After traveling within the city and the day after the game at Eastlink Centre, the bus headed to Moncton to settle there for two nights. Friday during the day, the Phoenix hit the road and headed for Halifax for the their game, after which the team returned to the same hotel. Finally, the last stop in Saint John tonight precede the long return Estrie overnight.

Here are the approximate balance of the trip in terms of distance and time spent on the road:

Thursday:
– Sherbrooke to Charlottetown: 1135 km and 14.5 hours between the Palais des Sports and the hotel in Charlottetown.

Friday:
– Driving within the city of Charlottetown.
– Charlottetown to Moncton: 170 km and 2 hours to the Moncton hotel.

Friday
– Moncton to Halifax: 265 km and 2.5 hours from Moncton hotel to Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.
– Halifax to Moncton: 265 km and 2.5 hours Scotiabank Centre in Halifax to Moncton hotel.

Saturday / Sunday:
– Moncton to Saint John 165 km and 2 hours from Moncton hotel to Harbour Station in Saint John.
– Overnight, back to Sherbrooke which lasted nearly 10 hours for the remaining 950 kilometers. The team will arrive in Sherbrooke Sunday morning.

The grand total, therefore roll the Phoenix almost 3000 km and will pass about 33 hours by bus over five days, in addition to travel even within the cities the team visited.

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So players must deal with major challenges on the ice by facing three tough opponents, but must also deal with the traveling. It is very important for staff to manage the rest of the players and the power drives with high precision.

Of course, some players are more used than others with long routes, and are more comfortable with the idea of traveling between the games. “Being from the Maritimes, we often had to go far away to play hockey when I was younger.It happened to me a few times, spending ten or more hours by car on the day of a game. It is never ideal but everyone has to deal with that reality, then we learn to do it, “says Brock MacLeod.

Rest becomes essential for players. A curfew is imposed and all electronic devices (phones, MP3 players, tablets, computers, etc.) are shut off and handed in for the night to reduce distractions. Early in the season, we calculate where you should stop and sleep during various trips. “We decided to move to Moncton for two nights so we wouldn’t go into games with four hours of bus travel in the legs. It happens that Moncton was about halfway to between the two cities so it suited us better, “says Stéphane Julien.

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Food is as important as the rest when the team is on the road. Players take various strategies of their own, which adds an element to the puzzle with which the team staff must deal with on a daily basis. For example, the team often has lunch at the hotel, dinner at the restaurant, have a snack at the arena before the game and something jumping on the bus after the game.

The coach insists his players have been subjected to rigorous training since the beginning of the season for exactly these situations. “We work the guys hard enough during our practices so that they are able to perform well when they will be unable to skate on the same day. Cardio and endurance become very important. The ‘ morning skate “  in a trip like that, you can forget it,” he says, only having his players  practice for 45 minutes in Charlottetown Thursday morning.

“Overall, I think this is the most demanding trip with which we have had to deal since coming into the league,” added Stéphane Julien.

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