On the road again
The schedule is amping up for the Albany Devils, and with that, comes travel.
Sometimes, lots of it.
The Devils flew to St. John’s for two games last weekend, losing in a shootout Friday and winning by two in regulation on Saturday. Their good play may have been aided by some rough travel conditions.
They bussed down to Newark and planned on flying out Thursday, but the best-laid plans make the best punchlines.
“It adds to the memoirs, to say the least,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “It’s a tough place to fly into. Through the ’90s, I flew in there a lot of times, never landed straight, that’s for sure, especially anytime past November. We had some issues, and the flight got cancelled.
“The direct flight, from what I understand is a very common flight for teams in this league is from Newark to St. John’s, directly. So we went down there [Thursday], we practiced and were looking to fly out, it got cancelled. We had to fly out the next day. We got in about quarter to three. By the time we hit the hotel, it was a little after three. A quick little lie-down, a bite to eat, and off we went to the rink.
“You know what? The guys played hard. It’s funny sometimes, I’ve been part of situations where the bus has got stuck and they’ve basically had to bump the game back, you’ve got 20 minutes to get dressed, and sometimes you don’t have time to think. You just go play. We played well Friday night, too. We came back. I think we were down three different times, battled back and got a point. It’s a tough building to play in. It’s a great hockey atmosphere. They’re close to 7,000 right on top of you, and they’re into it. We battled hard Saturday and got a big point and got back on the plane. It didn’t even feel like we were there for 48 hours, and we probably weren’t for much more than that.”
Maybe the Devils will get more of the same good play as they get little time to think about anything this weekend.
They play Friday night in Rochester at 7:05, then bus back to Albany to host Syracuse at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Then, they bus down to Atlantic City to play Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at 4 p.m. in Boardwalk Hall on Sunday.
“We’re starting to see some volume in our schedule,” Kowalsky said. “This is an opportunity to utilize our lineup. We’re in Roch Thursday [for Thanksgiving dinner and a hotel stay]. Friday, we’ll come back, we’ll probably get back around 2:30 in the morning. If we can insert two or three fresh guys, then we will. Then we’ve got the quick turnaround, even though it’s a 5 o’clock game, which will help us on the other end, since it’s a 4 o’clock game in Atlantic City.
“I think it’s good. We’ve had enough of practice. Weekends like this, you get into that game mode and you never get out of it, because we won’t have any pregame skates past Friday. You just roll from one game to the next, and hopefully, we can insert guys who can come in and contribute and give us some energy.”
Asked if he will take everyone to Rochester, Kowalsky laughed: “No. We’ve only got one bus.
“We’ll just take maybe two healthy scratches. There’s no sense dragging guys six or seven hours, there and back, when we’ve got a quick turnaround the next day. We’ll hopefully have some fresh legs here, Saturday, and can maybe utilize that again Sunday. We’re using our lineup to keep guys fresh.”