Back in the days of the West Coast Hockey League, I once went on a never-ending road trip with the team then called the Anchorage Aces – if memory serves, that lovely journey covered 10 games in 19 days in California and Arizona.
At the time, I thought we were quite the road warriors. Turns out we were mere pretenders. The Alaska Avalanche and the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, junior teams who play in the North American Hockey League, are the real kings of the road.
Because the Ice Dogs’ home rink at the Big Dipper has been undergoing renovations, and because other NAHL teams don’t want to travel here without hooking up with both the Ice Dogs and Avalanche, the two Alaska teams have basically been on the road all season. The players have probably eaten more Subway sandwiches than Jared, been on more buses than they had in their entire elementary school experience and stayed in more hotels than a rock band.
The Ice Dogs (7-13-1) played one home game at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks, and have played every other game on the road. Relief is on the horizon, though – the Big Dipper is ready for games again. Fairbanks on Friday and Saturday entertains the Bismark Bobcats, and doesn’t have to leave the state again March, when it hits the road for games in North Dakota and Iowa.
The Avalanche (6-10-2) have played one home game, and play tonight, Friday and Saturday in Santa Fe, N.M. After that, though, the Avalanche play their next 28 games in Alaska – 20 at home in Wasilla at Menard Memorial Arena and 8 in Fairbanks. The Avalanche have a home series Nov. 16-17-18 against Bismark.