Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tales from the Road

Pretty good piece at about the trials and travails of college hockey teams traveling earlier this month, particularly the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Stuck in Minneapolis after not making their connecting flight from Wisconsin in time, the Seawolves eventually arrived home 24 hours before they swept Minnesota State—which was already in the 49th State, having played Alaska (Fairbanks) the weekend before—even though UAA had to express mail its equipment home.

Having spent my first year after graduating from Boston College at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, I can personally relate that traveling from the Great White North to the rest of the NCAA hockey world had and still has its own unique challenges, even normally. Connecting flights are just a cost of doing business to compete at the Division I level with the rest of the Lower 48.

In November 1991, UAF headed east to play Army, which was an East Coast homecoming for me. The itinerary? Leave Fairbanks International Airport at midnight Alaska time (which is 4 a.m. ET). Get into Anchorage in about 45 minutes, then leave for Seattle about a half-hour later. Get into Seattle 5 a.m. Pacific time, when barely anything is open in the airport (as a long-time Seahawks fan, I probably should have gone to see the Kingdome then, before it got imploded in 2000). Then off to Salt Lake City, before flying to Chicago, and then getting into Newark early that evening.

Play at Army, sweep the series, then head up to Maine (I didn't make that leg of the trip). Then go home in reverse, again taking about 15-18 hours total with layovers. Then repeat again a few weeks later to Alabama-Huntsville. Then again to Kent State—and again. And again. (And then personally, do it one more time in Jan. 1996 with Michigan State for a three-game trip to Fairbanks.)

You don't really see NHL teams do that.

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