Rockets defenceman Jesse Lees is seen here putting his gear on the bus before leaving to Prince George. I have more pic's to share on tomorrow's blog.
10:45 am: Arrive at arena. The Rockets bus, all 800 thousand dollars of it, sits waiting behind Prospera Place as the players load it with equipment, the skate sharpener and the jersey's. Don't forget the jersey's! Vancouver did that and it didn't go over well.
10:45 am: Arrive at arena. The Rockets bus, all 800 thousand dollars of it, sits waiting behind Prospera Place as the players load it with equipment, the skate sharpener and the jerseys. Don't forget the jerseys! The Vancouver Giants made that error and it didn't go over very well with management. Rookie Tanner Moar, Tyrell Goulbourne, Tyson Baillie and Filip Vasko do most of the grunt work. In saying that, veteran Adam Brown doesn't enter the bus empty handed. With a dozen water bottles in hand for the boys at the back of the bus, Brown acknowledges he understands the importance of staying hydrated.
11:15 am: We depart for the Wood Fire Bakery for lunch before hitting the road. With coach Huska in Moose Jaw at the Subway Super Series, one of the four deluxe lazy boy seats are now available at the front of the bus. I take over that seat for the trip to Prince George as I sit behind Rockets assistant coach Dan Lambert. As we head for lunch the sun is shining beautifully and the snow that fell the night before is melting at a steady pace.
11:23 am: Arrive at Wood Fire Bakery, a favourite stop of the players. If you have never been to the small eatery make a note of stopping in there. The soup and sandwiches are outstanding. Plus you will hear the owner bellow out "cordone bleau ready" in his own unique style.
11:46 am: With our stomach's full, it is time to hit the road. The bus has additional room on this trip considering coach Huska and players Brett Bulmer, Zach Franko and Colton Sissons are not on board. The three players flew into Prince George from Regina while Huska joins the team tomorrow. The big winners in the extra room on the bus are rookies like Tanner Moar and Austin Ferguson who get two seats to themselves. When the bus is full those two sit with each other which provides for little elbow room.
11:55 am: As the bus heads out to Vernon, the first movie of the road trip is fired up.' Trailer Park Boys' provide a few early laughs that even have bus driver Mel giggling as he keeps his eye on the road guiding our chariot along the way. Speaking of the roads, despite the snowfall overnight, the road is wet but clear. Even if the road conditions hold up, we are in for a 8 hour bus ride.
1:45 pm: The first movie of the trip is over as we arrive in Kamloops where their is virtually no snow. We are welcomed by the sun which is ripping through the bus windows. Hate to say it, but it is makes it hard to have a mid afternoon nap.
3:25 pm: After a short nap, assistant coach Dan Lambert brings out the WHL Media Guide for an impromptu trivia round. The participants are myself, athletic therapist Jeff Thorburn and assistant Ryan Cuthbert. The question of who holds the record for the longest losing streak on the road (36 games) in the WHL raises the eyebrows of everyone within ear shot. The league record for most points for a rookie also has us amazed. Good fun.
3:40 pm: It is usually at this time of the day that the noon meal becomes a distant memory and several players bring out snacks. Within ear shot of me I can hear rookie Austin Ferguson putting his hands into a brown bag and picking out some delectable treats.
4:23 pm: It is time to watch some satellite TV, which means tuning into the NHL Network to watch Boston and Carolina. Having the 'dish' on the bus and moving within a half hour of Williams Lake where rolling hills, not mountain terrain prevail, provides for great reception.
5:05 pm: We arrive in Williams Lake for supper. Ahead of schedule as the roads are better than first feared, the team takes it's time at Boston Pizza where the meal in conveniently pre-ordered. The players had three options to choose from, so no one is disappointed. Truth be told, assistant coach Ryan Cuthbert has a pretty good grasp of what the boys like to eat, so even the pickiest of eaters leave satisfied.
7:05 pm: After a quick stop in Williams Lake it is back on the bus for the final two and a half hour leg of the trip. After ideal road conditions, they take a turn for the worse just outside of Quesnel. Few inside the bus notice the slower pace of the bus as it waits to pass semi's that are gingerly crawling along the highway. The players attention is on the video screen as the Trail Park Boys marathon continues.
8:49 pm: Touchdown! We officially arrive in Prince George. Everyone is a little stir crazy inside the bus as the long trip comes to an end. The first stop is the CN Centre where the players will unloaded their gear before heading to the hotel. Outside of a few players that may make a quick walk to Tim Horton's for a bite to eat, it's in their rooms for the night.