ROAD TIPS: Day Nine
Brandon -> Saskatoon: 385 miles
Well, here we are. Four games down, two games to go, and it’s official: we’re down to the twilight of the eastern swing. The kids aren’t as wide-eyed any more when we pull into towns; the meals at restaurants are much more orderly, and a sense of focus permeates the team as we get down to the final two games of the longest roadtrip of the season.
Today was one of the quieter bus rides I can remember, with most players sleeping for nearly the majority of the day’s travel. We watched one movie – Four Brothers – and most of the guys were attentive and watched it in its entirety without any distraction. There really wasn’t much to look at out of the window, other than an occasional tractor driving on the merging onto the highway when we navigated past a small town, or the small hills that popped up between Brandon and Saskatoon every hour or so.
This land is flat – when we approached Regina from the east today, we could see the skyline from a good 10-15 miles out. It was almost bizarre passing through some small foothills as the bus was forced to maneuver through small nooks and canyons cut into the landscape. Though it has been cold – and you can underline that – there hasn’t been much precipitation on this trip, other than a trace of snow back in Swift Current. The landscape has been white due to previous winter storms, but the most snow we’ve seen thus far on this trip came back when we traveled over Snoqualmie pass leaving Western Washington a week ago and the following morning as we headed north through Idaho into southeastern BC. And of course there’s your big fat jinx as we prepare for a 20 hour bus ride Saturday night into Sunday.
It was a quiet dinner at Chiantis, a restaurant recommended to us by Jay Varady, who ate there several times while he was with USA Hockey at the World Junior Championships in Saskatoon last year. Cliques never really seem to materialize at meals – other than the MacDonald / Cumiskey pairing that usually happens to find its way to the same area, tables are usually occupied arbitrarily. Rookies sit with veterans, Americans with Saskies, goalies with forwards, and so on. Except this meal – I ended up sitting at a long table with our staff to my right, with a group of Americans (plus Brennan Yadlowski) to my left. I’m not sure if it was by chance, or if they just happened to be in a conversation by the time everyone was seated, but to my left were Birkholz, McCrea, Stanfield and Maxwell in addition to Yads. More importantly, it was one of the best dinners on the trip, and even after a week of eating a ton of pasta and chicken, I was very pleased by my fetuccini alfredo with chicken, and even had a few bites of the Maxwell’s tortellini to my left.
That’s it for now – it’s late, and there’s a big game on the horizon against the Eastern Conference-leading blades Friday. It’s a game regionally televised by SHAW TV in Western Canada – and the ‘Tips last year seemed to play very well in those big TV games.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
I honestly couldn’t find one, and I didn’t want to sully the Quote of the Day by trying to force one. Instead, here’s a chat with Saskatoon native Chad Suer, who’ll be our guest on the Silvertips Radio Show this coming Tuesday at Sporty’s:
What type of a city is Saskatoon?
It’s a nice city to be around. A river runs through the middle of it, and there are a lot of attractions along the river. You can wakeboard on it – there’s actually a pro wakeboarding circuit that comes through here in the summer. It’s a good place to hang out, and stroll around on a nice day. I guess you can swim around in it, though it’s a bit unsanitary. People still do it, though.
What is the University of Saskatchewan known for?
The university is really nice – there’s definitely a lot of money that’s thrown into it, that’s for sure. It’s a strong university for physics and sciences.
You’re an avid outdoorsman and a hunter – what do people from Saskatoon do when it’s warm enough to go outside?
There are a ton of lakes, especially an hour, two hours away, so that’s where people go on the weekends. For hunting, we have a lot of deer around here as well unless you want to hunt ducks, waterfowl and game – there’s not too much after that. Just your basic birds.
Your parents are Blades season ticket holders. What do you remember about growing up and going to games here?
It was always kind of a family thing. I went to a lot of home games before I joined the Warriors. I remember the Wade Belak days – he was a guy that I always enjoyed watching out there.
How is the U.S. Division different from the East Division?
I wouldn’t say the travel is much too different. I think the play is definitely a bit faster in the US Division – at least that’s what I’ve noticed this year. The fans are definitely a lot more active in the states, that’s for sure. The rinks are also a lot nicer, newer, and a lot more updated. The facilities in the U.S. Division are state of the art – bigger, well equipped, and modern.
Thanks, Chad! ‘Tips-Blades can be heard live on KRKO with the Everett Bone & Joint Pre-Game Show starting at 4:40, and the Washington’s Lottery Drop of the Puck at 5:12 pm! Go ‘Tips!