Shelby Lum / Lantern photographer
“It’s just another weekend,” said Mark Osiecki, coach of Ohio State men’s ice hockey, of his team’s trip to Fairbanks, Alaska, this week.
But that notion might be a bit of a stretch. The team, which travels by bus for most away games, made the nearly 4,000 mile excursion by air Wednesday. After three plane rides and two layovers, the Buckeyes arrived in Fairbanks at about 3:20 a.m. EST Thursday, according to Osiecki’s Twitter account, @Osiecki24.
OSU began preparing for its two-game series against the Alaska Nanooks the next morning. Friday night’s series opener is set for 11:05 p.m. EST, less than 48 hours after OSU’s transcontinental trip.
Sophomore forward Max McCormick, who has never been to Alaska, said his upperclassmen teammates were helpful in explaining what to expect.
“I think it’s just a matter of getting the trip over with and then getting our bodies ready and getting our minds focused,” McCormick said. “We’re used to the long road trips. We’ll know how to get our bodies ready.”
Although the players are primarily focused on the task at hand on the ice, they are excited about getting to visit America’s northernmost state.
“We only have a few kids that have made this trip, kids are looking forward to it,” Osiecki said Wednesday on Twitter.
“It’s a long trip, but other than that I think it’s a pretty cool opportunity,” he said.
The juniors and seniors on the team will be making a return trip to Fairbanks after a two-game series there in 2011. The Nanooks outscored the Buckeyes, 7-2, en route to a series sweep.
Junior forward Chris Crane remembered it being a “rough trip,” one in which the airline lost the team’s luggage.
“You get on three different planes throughout the day, and you’re traveling for 10 hours, it definitely takes a toll on your body,” Crane said. “I’m definitely going to be looking forward to getting to the hotel there and getting settled in.”
The players and coaching staff have not made any excuses for potential poor play as a result of the travel demands.
“It’s what every team has to go through throughout some point in their college career,” Crane said. “We’ll be ready to go Friday night.”