Every child that picks up a hockey stick dreams of one day playing in the NHL. The road to that level can be challenging and the players that play the game cope with long trips and modest wages all for the chance at playing at the next level
I recently took a road trip with the Idaho Steelheads to get a first-hand look at what the minor leagues are all about.
It’s early morning and the Idaho Steelheads have just arrived as a team to hop on the bus make the nearly 5 and half hour trip south to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Grizzlies the following day.
It’s trips like these that bond the players, with long bus rides, sleepless nights and quick lunches along the way. For the Steelheads the road trip brings a better appreciation of why they compete.
"Sometimes we get cards going, we will play so guys will be huddled up in between the seats. There's not a lot to do except to talk and have that bonding time which is good for our team," said Forward, Jefferson Dahl.
"The opportunities to play the game we feel really privileged so if that means bus rides were fine with it,” said, Defensemen, Joe Faust.
The team will arrive at the Maverik Center roughly 2 hours before the puck will drop. In that time players will stretch, drink coffee, and do other locker activities in order for them to get ready to square off against Utah.
Forward Branden Troock who is playing in his third year in the pros was getting some leg work done. For him getting ready consists of his superstitions, which requires the trainer to do everything from right to left.
"One thing I do I really do with my hockey is I get dressed from right to left that's the one thing I really focus on I just have done it all my up through hockey and stuck with it," said, Troock.
Life in the minors can be a mental grind so it's not all about hockey. Players play a game similar to hacky sack. They call it sewer ball.
It's not just the players that put everything on the line and long hours in the day khris bestel the team's equipment manager has seen it all with the team. "The Beast" as he's better known has been with the team since 2000, never missing a game during his time with the steelheads.
"What am I up to about 1500 hundred games I don't think any body else got that," said, Bestel.
The enthusiasm is necessary for the Steelheads that embark on these long road trips. On this day the Grizzlies skated to a 5-4 shootout victory but even in the loss, there is a lesson. Brush it off get better and move on to the next game.