Riding along with Oswego State’s Division I club hockey team, one of the only clubs to ride a coach bus to road games, I was given an all access look at their last road trip of the season starting Feb. 3.
1:45 p.m. Club members meet in Romney parking lot. The team is about to travel on a two- game road trip to St. Bonaventure University and Mercyhurst College. Coach Jay Peacock walks down the aisle taking one last head count while saying a few words for the ride.
“Before you put on your music or fall asleep, put it in your head we have to win this game tonight,” he said.
5:12 p.m. The bus turns into the Best Western Hotel and Suites in Olean, N.Y. only a couple miles from where the team will play St. Bonaventure. After a last minute change, the game will now be played at 8:30 p.m. Senior captain Adam Webster uses time as an opportunity to prepare his teammates.
“We know what is on the line and we have to go earn that tonight,” Webster said.
6:45 p.m. As the team arrives the bus is silent as game-time approaches. Some players tape their sticks in the lobby, while another group takes a soccer ball and kicks it around to stay loose. The team skates out to a crowd of screaming St. Bonaventure students.
8:30 p.m. The puck drops at center ice and the game is underway. The fans pick one Oswego State player to taunt the most during the game, junior forward Chris Timmons.
“I was surprised, we never get taunted that badly,” Timmons said. “It just gives me more inspiration to score.”
10:30 p.m. The game ends. The Lakers lose 7-5.
11:25 p.m. The squad arrives back at the hotel for a homemade meal brought in a slow cooker for the trip. The mood is more relaxed as the team jokes around for the rest of the night since the pressure had lifted.
11:45 a.m. The room phones start to ring as Coach Peacock announces to the team they need to be out of their rooms by noon. The team meets in the lobby and is informed of another delay, this one moving the 8 p.m. Mercyhurst game to 9:45. The team, now stuck, eats lunch and crowds around the TV to watch a Syracuse University basketball game.
2:45 p.m. The team boards the bus en route to Mercyhurst, Pa.
4:15 p.m. The bus arrives in Erie, Pa. with hours of downtime. The driver finds a local mall for the team to walk around before game time. At the mall, players grab some food and get massages.
“It was great,” Webster said. “I felt really loose for the game.”
7:00 p.m. The bus arrives at Mercyhurst College, but there’s a problem. The bus has a flat tire and cannot move. The players are forced to exit, taking their bags and throwing them into a local hockey fan’s truck before walking across campus to the rink, where the truck driver will meet them with their gear.
9:45 p.m. The annual Laker-Cup game against the Mercyhurst Lakers begins.
11:45 p.m. Oswego State plays a close game but is hurt by penalties, dropping the game 4-2.
11:55 p.m. The team piles on the bus one last time for the ride back to Oswego. The team laughs and jokes about the good points of the season.
“Even though we lost both games it was the most fun I had with the team all year,” Timmons said.
4:45 a.m. The bus arrives back in Oswego with smiles all around despite the late hour. Players exit the bus, grab their bags and walk to their respective cars.
The last road trip turned out to be less about hockey and more about a group of close young men that played together on the same team. The Lakers will compete in the league playoff tournament Friday, Feb. 17 at 3 p.m. in Syracuse.